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Macbeth: The Struggle Against Evil.

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Macbeth: The Struggle Against Evil Shannon Johnson Sr. Marian Davis, O.S.B. English 11 12/7/2003 Macbeth: The Struggle Against Evil Thesis Statement: In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the character Macbeth constantly battles against his evil nature. As the play progresses, Macbeth seems to have become a completely evil tyrant, but he never fully ends his struggle against evil. Introduction I. Macbeth: a noble and virtuous character II. Struggle with temptation and evil A. Witches B. Himself C. Lady Macbeth III. Murder of Duncan A. Before the murder B. Effects of the murder IV. Murder of Banquo V. Murder of Macduff's family VI. Lasting nobility and signs of conscience Conclusion William Shakespeare's primary source for Macbeth was Holinshed's History of Scotland. The fictional character, Macbeth, is based mainly on the actual Macbeth who Holinshed writes about. This Scottish play is, "Shakespeare's chief tragic gift to the world at large" (Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher 279). Although it is his shortest play, it is often considered to be his best. In it he depicts the "corruption of a soul" in a way that both excites us, yet at the same time brings fear to us (Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher 279). He is a character with whom, we are strangely able to identify, and whose destruction we cannot watch without feelings of fright and pity (Alden 276). It is a play, which becomes the personal tragedy of Macbeth, a noble character whose flaws cause his downfall. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the character Macbeth constantly battles against his evil nature. ...read more.


After much contemplation, he resolves not to kill Duncan, but his decision doesn't last long. Evil thoughts overcome him. Lady Macbeth is also seen as an evil with which he struggles against. She understands Macbeth very well and knows exactly how to manipulate him. She knows that he is a good man. This is demonstrated to us when she says, "Yet I do fear thy nature; / It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great, / Art not without ambition, but without / the illness should attend it" ( 1.5.16-20). She also knows that he will probably not go through with his plans without her pressuring and influencing him to go through with them. She decides that she must rid of anything that interferes with him becoming king. Macbeth tells her that he has decided not to kill the king and she becomes infuriated. She knows that he is a very proud man, so by questioning his manhood she is able to convince him to kill the king. According to Curry, "He dares do all that may become a man. And it is precisely this established foundation of his self-esteem that Lady Macbeth assaults. She charges him with unmasculine weakness and contemptible cowardice" (118). She is a very influential force upon him and holds much power. Macbeth succumbs to the temptation and evil of his wife. Even though he has given into the temptation and evil, he continues to have a strong sense of conscience and fears the evil act which he is soon going to commit. ...read more.


Although finally, it seems like there is no goodness and nobility remaining in him, there is. Macbeth never fully allows himself to become entirely evil. There are still lasting signs of conscience and virtue shown in his character. Curry explains, " Macbeth remains essentially human and his conscience continues to witness the diminution of his being. There is still left necessarily some natural good in him; sin cannot completely deprive him of his rational nature, which is the root of his inescapable inclination to virtue"(133). Even when Macbeth is about to die, he demonstrates nobility by not killing himself or giving up. He also did not want to kill Macduff because he felt guilty about spilling so much of his blood already. This shows his Johnson 6 lasting conscience and virtue. Thomas Aquinas is quoted as stating that, "no human being can become completely evil" (Curry 89). Initially, it is easy to see all of Macbeth's good virtues, but later after he has committed all of his evil acts, it becomes very difficult. It's almost as if the evil takes over and becomes second nature to him, but not quite. Doing the evil acts is always difficult for him, and through it all he is able to maintain his conscience and some virtues. He never becomes completely evil because of his conscience, which causes a great deal of mental suffering. The good in him is never fully destroyed, and we hold admiration for him even up to the time of his death: "Macbeth's language is the grave utterance of the very heart, conscience-sick, even to the last faintings of moral death" (Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher 230). ...read more.

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