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The story of Macbeth, like most of Shakespeare's plays, tells a story that has a moral lesson attached to it.

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Introduction

The story of Macbeth, like most of Shakespeare's plays, tells a story that has a moral lesson attached to it. Macbeth was essentially a man who craved power but when a prophecy was revealed that he would indeed gain that which he sought, Macbeth wasn't satisfied. Instead, he went to great lengths to ensure that his power lasted longer than it should have. He ahdered to the evil whims and plans of his wife, Lady Macbeth, and put himself in a position that destroyed his self respect, ruined his pride, degraded his honor, and spoiled his integrity... all in order to possess...and maintain the crown... On the level of human evil, Shakespeare's Scottish tragedy is about Macbeth's bloody rise to power, including the murder of the Scottish king, Duncan, and the guilt-ridden pathology of evil deeds generating still more evil deeds. As an integral part of this thematic web is the play's most memorable character, Lady Macbeth. Like her husband, Lady Macbeth's ambition for power leads her into an unnatural, phantasmagoric realm of witchcraft, insomnia and madness. But while Macbeth responds to the prophecies of the play's famous trio of witches, Lady Macbeth goes even further by figuratively transforming herself into an unnatural, desexualized evil spirit. The current trend of critical opinion is toward an upward reevaluation of Lady Macbeth who is said to be rehumanized by her insanity and her suicide. ...read more.

Middle

Perhaps the most obvious evil in the play is the hideous evil of the Three Witches. From the very first words, we get an impression of born evil. In Scene 1, pathetic fallacy is used to great effect: "in thunder, lightning or rain", and their half-truths and lies are seen: "Foul is fair, and fair is foul". Their corrupting influence is clear on Macbeth, as they are the ones that prophesise his forthcoming kingship. Their gruesome magic making only increases the feeling of evil. The witches appear as born, pure evil with wretched souls in wretched bodies. There is no doubt in the reader's mind that they mean no good to Macbeth. They corrupt him and their evil causes the seeds of treachery and murder to be sown in his mind. Above all others in the play, they seem the epitome of evil. At the beginning of the play we see Lady Macbeth as a ruthless, merciless woman, willing to murder the King of Scotland under their own protection within their house. In Act 1 Scene 7, she mocks Macbeth for being uncertain at the prospect of murdering their king for the pursuit of power. She says that she would (of her child) "dashed the brains out, had I sworn as you have done to this." ...read more.

Conclusion

and "Glamis hath murdered sleep" illustrate this particularly strongly. These phrases show that Macbeth is human and that there is uncertainty in his heart. His 'murder' of sleep tells us that he has a conscience at the beginning of the play, unlike Lady Macbeth. At the end of the play, Macbeth is described as a cruel, mirthless tyrant who has ruined the noble country Scotland. His actions of murdering families and their children seem to reinforce this. However, before and during the final battle he shows nobility and weariness at the world and the deed that he has performed. His mind varies from melancholy and sadness: "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" to bloodthirsty barbarianism: "I'll fight, till from my bones my flesh be hacked" and "cursed be the man that says 'Hold, enough!'" However, at the last Macbeth seems to us as a honourable man, who will fight to the last, and Shakespeare makes us feel sadness for his fate. It is unfortunate that he would be remembered by most as a "dead butcher" with his "fiend-like wife". In conclusion, Macbeth explores evil in many ways, in which all characters play a part. Shakespeare makes us think about how evil is manifested in greed, temptation and corruption, and how it is compared with other acts of revenge and justice. Evil is created and influenced by others; no one man can be Evil. ...read more.

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