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How does Shakespeare show the progression of evil dramatically in Macbeth?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare show the progression of evil dramatically in Macbeth? Macbeth is a play, which follows the steady progression of a man to his ultimate downfall. When the play opens, we meet the three sisters who represent the theme of the supernatural in Macbeth. The witches chant a spell to prepare for their meeting with Macbeth. They greet him with the predictions that he will be Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland. At the start of the play, we see Macbeth as a warrior, returning successfully from battle. He is with his comrade in arms, Banquo, and he is curious about the witches' predictions. However, it is Banquo who warns that the witches' predictions might lead to evil. "What, can the devil speak true?" However, Macbeth is now set on to the path of evil. He is intrigued by the prediction; particularly that he is to be the King of Scotland. Dramatic irony occurs in the play now when Duncan, King of Scotland, enters the stage and speaks of "absolute trust" of the Thane of Cawdor and, at the same time, Macbeth is plotting his murder. Macbeth returns to his Castle at Inverness, having previously informed his wife of the predictions and that the King of Scotland is to visit them. When we first meet Lady Macbeth, we recognise her potential for evil. ...read more.

Middle

These ideas all relate to the fact that evil has occurred and that the progression of evil is being demonstrated dramatically. Banquo, Macbeth's comrade in arms, is suspicious of Macbeth's rise to power. "Thou has it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird women promised, and I fear "Thou played'st most foully for it..." He is to attend a banquet at Macbeth's castle that evening. Macbeth checks out Banquo's movements and those of his son, Fleance. He has evil intentions for Banquo, but he hides them behind well-meaning words. He arranges for assassins to do his dirty work for him and Banquo is murdered but Fleance fortunately escapes. Macbeth appears to have lost all sense of conscience. He is becoming progressively more evil. As he waits for the murderers. Macbeth reveals his more secret thoughts. "To be thus is nothing, But to be safely thus." It is nothing to be king unless he is safely king. Banquo is a thorn in his flesh. In Act 3 Scene 2 Lady Macbeth is troubled. She advises Macbeth not to brood on what is done but he is still racked with by fears and insecurity. Again, the issue of gender is tackled. She forces him on to further acts of evilness. "What's done, is done." In Act 3 Scene 3, Macbeth welcomes his guests to the banquet and mixes with them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth's reign of terror may be coming to an end. Lady Macbeth loses her sense of reality and spirals into a world of madness. Macbeth reflects on a bleak future. He determines to fight to the death and orders rumourmongers to be killed. When the doctor tells him he cannot cure mental disorders, Macbeth dismisses medicine. Nothing of good is tolerated. Macbeth is interested in one thing and one thing only, the progress of evil. Macbeth leaves, calling for his armour. Malcolm orders the army to use branches to camouflage their approach to Dunsinane. Macbeth has no sense of fear. We learn of the death of Lady Macbeth that sounds like suicide. The news is brought to Macbeth by Seyton, pronounced Satan. Shakespeare reinforces the theme of evil. Since Macbeth thinks of himself as immortal, a sin in itself, since the witches have predicted that no man of woman can kill Macbeth, he has lost all sense of fear. However, Macduff has been born by caesarean section and, at last, Macbeth's luck runs out and he is killed by Macduff. In Act 4 Scene 3 Malcolm names eight of Macbeth's evils. He is bloody, luxurious, false, deceitful, sudden, malicious and possesses every sin that has a name. We have seen Macbeth through each of these evils, rising from Thane of Cawdor through to the end of his reign with his death. He toys with the devil through his association with the witches, is full of misplaced ambition, murders, has no sense of guilt or conscience and sees himself as immortal, above God. ...read more.

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