Theme of Evil in Macbeth

| September 14, 2020

English – Macbeth – Evil – Homework Essay – “In Macbeth, Shakespeare presents us with a powerful vision on evil”. Write your response to the above statement. Textual support may include reference to a particular performance of the play you have seen. I believe the theme of this play to be the vision on evil. It is a very powerful theme; it makes the play both interesting and memorable. There is an evil presence throughout the play; this is evident from the very first scene where we encounter the three witches.
Fundamentally, there are two types of evil visible in Shakespeare’s play of Macbeth. The evil which we see, the violent acts, the violent imagery, then there is a sense of evil within the characters themselves, and the three witches, as they are considered evil beings. All of these elements combine to establish an overall atmosphere of evil. Evil characters like Lady Macbeth I think the strongest vision of evil in this play is demonstrated by the witches. The witches themselves are a symbol of evil, never mind their actual doings. They are supernatural and automatically feared.
They like to play cruel tricks, mislead people. Their cruel actions always cause a cruel and bleak outcome for their victim. We see examples of this in the very first scene, when they discuss how they tortured a sailor by depriving him of sleep and tossing his ship into a tempestuous storm. They enjoy barbaric acts like severing a man’s thumb and keeping it as a trophy. In my opinion it’s very meaningful that the witches are the first people we met, the set the tone of the play. The significance of this is huge; it shows the prevalence of the theme of evil.

Early on, we realise that the witches have a great deal of power over events and propensity to convince a malleable mind. Their goal is not to help Macbeth gain all the glory and power which it is his ambition to achieve but to convince him that this is their aim but rather lead him to his death! They receive satisfaction in the false sense of security and hope their prophecies have given Macbeth. I think the witches have set their sights on misleading Macbeth the whole way until his death, they pray on his sense of ambition and use this to start the fire which engulfs all and ends with Macbeth’s death.
Lady Macbeth has another important role in this play, to expand on the theme of evil and carry it further through the play. I think she, like the witches enjoys in the pursuit of evil just for the sake of it. She taunts and blackmails her husband into committing unthinkable crimes for the sake of it. Lady Macbeth is an appalling woman, from the moment we met her we see her just ready to empty her wickedness upon any poor sucker that comes along, unlucky for Macbeth he happens to be her victim.
She is a like a spider she catches him in her web and wraps him up and engrosses him in all her evil. Her true essence comes into play when she calls upon the evil spirits to take away her femininity, to take away her weaknesses and pity, “come, you spirits, that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty”. When Macbeth refuses to be part of the act, he decides to not kill Duncan, this infuriates Lady Macbeth. She begins to try and guilt Macbeth into committing the crime. She uses violent bloody imagery to guilt him into doing it.
She is very manipulative; this shows us how ruthless Lady Macbeth is. Macbeth ends up changing his mind. While the three witches and Lady Macbeth are seen as the main forms of evil in the play, we must not overlook Macbeth himself. We cannot tell if he is truly an evil human being or if he just carries out evil acts. After all, he is the one who carries out Duncan’s brutal murder. He is the one who ordered for the killing of Banquo and Fleance (who escapes). He is the one who employs three murders to kill Macduffs wife and kids. Is this because he is evil?
Or is it because of the push Lady Macbeth gave him which led him to spiral out of control and with the confidence he received from the witches. The brutal slaughter of Duncan was his first step into the bloodbath from which he finds impossible to return from. The violent bloody imagery used throughout the play also portrays a sense of evil. The evil in the play is presented very well through pathetic fallacy. In most occasions in the play, when a murder was committed or when we came upon the witches, the weather would reflect the actions or the tension in the play.
Also, how the animals reacted after Duncan’s death, they all went wild and ate each other. I think this draws a very good image, and links everything in with the particular act. These unnatural acts mirror the evil in reality. In my opinion this overall intensifies the play and makes you become engrossed in the play. Overall, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, is full of images of evil, cruelty, suffering and death. It is images like the amputated thumb, the horses eating each other of the brutality of the murders.
There are also many references to the devil, hell and violence. The characters, their actions and moods all combine to make a very powerful vision of evil within the play. While we see that evil does not go unpunished, the final victory does not look like much compared to the amount of evil which has been seen through this play, the amount of lives lost and how it has affected the people left behind, even though law and order is finally restored. It is prevalent that the main theme in this play is the theme of evil.

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