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How far and in what ways do you feel that Macbeth explores the conflict between good and evil?

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Introduction

How far and in what ways do you feel that Macbeth explores the conflict between good and evil? The play deals with enormous acts of evil, Macbeth is at the root of all those evils and at the end of the play, Macbeth is destroyed. To the audience, this play appears to be the basic and rather ancient conflict between good and evil - where good always wins. However, to explore this further, I feel it is important to define evil, as there are many different definitions. Evil ~ 1. Bad, harmful; 'the evil one'. The devil, believed to do material harm. The Oxford Concise Dictionary. There is nothing at all theatrical about the presentation of Macbeth's character. He does not confide in us or seek to establish any cosy relationship with the audience. There is nothing in Macbeth's character or conduct, which invites us to see any black humour in the play (other than the brief scene with the porter). Instead there is an astonishingly penetrating development of Macbeth's character. The focus here is directly upon what he is thinking and feeling, why he acts the way he does, and what consequences his own evil brings about upon himself. Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's most compelling characters, and the play is, of all Shakespeare's great tragedies, the one, which responds most immediately to character analysis. ...read more.

Middle

Act 2.5 This shows that Lady Macbeth still wants to go to heaven, and she believes in God - the opposite to the evil that she is thinking of. She wants to have it both ways, a successful husband and a place in heaven - but she knows that if she commits the murder of Duncan, then she can never repent. Lady Macbeth plants the seed of murdering King Duncan in Macbeth's mind. "Look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under't." The language Shakespeare uses here is significant, the flower is associated with beauty and goodness while the snake is associated with evil. The association with a snake would have been especially strong because in the bible the serpent is seen as an evil being. These comparisons to bible characters would also have shocked Elizabethan audiences, as they believed in heaven and hell. Macbeth is in the middle between good and evil. He is evil because as soon as he hears the prophecies, he thinks of killing Duncan - which is an evil thought. But he is also good because the thoughts of killing Duncan makes him feel sick. The same is true with Lady Macbeth. She knows good is in her, but she tries to stop the good in Act 2.5 ll. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth then tells him, in basic terms, we will speak later, and if you stay on my side, you will get something in return! Banquo doesn't rubbish Macbeth's suggestion in so many words. While he should have said something along the lines of 'we won't talk about the witches, because we already have a king'. He says 'I'll listen to you, but only if I don't lose any honour over it'. This is Banquo's way of keeping his options open. He is not making a moral choice, but sitting in the middle, waiting to see which is the best deal for him! After Duncan's murder, Banquo acts upset at first, but then says very little. He is taking in the situation. When Lady Macbeth faints, to take some of the heat off Macbeth - it is Banquo who draws attention to her. And it is him who suggests that they all get dressed and meet a little while later - again, to take the heat off Macbeth, at the moment when Macbeth is being almost interrogated by Malcolm. In Act 3.1 Banquo basically accuses Macbeth of killing Duncan. Saying; "Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all As the weird women promised; and I fear Thou playedst most foully for't." Act 3.1 ll. 1-3. However, Banquo letting Macbeth know that he knew what was going on, was by no means his way of saying, 'you're time is up'. ...read more.

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