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Essay/Term paper: Macbeth: the main theme of evil

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Macbeth

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Macbeth: The Main Theme of Evil

William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" is a play in which a man by the name of
Macbeth, who is presented as a mature man with an uncertain character. At the
beginning of the story, Macbeth's character was a character with strong morals.
As the play went on though, Macbeth's morality lessened immensely. After killing
Duncan he was very paranoid and feared the consequences that would arise. He
knew what he had done wrong. In comparing Duncan's murder with his best friend,
Banquo's murder, He was much more relaxed after Banquo's death. His character
shifted throughout the play. Macbeth, at this point did anything to keep his
crown, even so far as to getting killed for it! I think that some sort of
anatomy of evil was responsible for Macbeth's as well as other characters'
wrongdoings in the story. Each character in the story had to either fight it or
give into it. In Macbeth's case, he fought it and lost, and therefore, gave into
it. The play makes several points about the nature of evil. One point it makes
is that evil is not normal in human nature. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have to
sort of "trick" themselves into murdering Duncan. First, Lady Macbeth has to beg
evil spirits to tear all human feeling from her ("...spirits / That tend on
mortal thoughts..." [Act I, Scene V, Lines 41-42] "Stop up th' accessand passage
to remorse / That no compunctious visitings of nature / Shake my fell
purpose..."[Act I, Scene V, Lines 45-47]) and then she has to make Macbeth
ignore his own conscience ("Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' th' milk
of human kindness To catch the nearest way" [Act I, Scene V, Lines 17-19]) Once
she has seen her husband's ambition has been inflamed, she is willing to risk
anything to help him get the crown. It was as if she were taking her heart out
to make her husband king. She has been very successful of emptying herself of
human feeling. By the end of the play, both characters have been destroyed from
within. Fear and guilt drive Lady Macbeth mad; Macbeth sees life as an empty,
meaningless charade. (His famous speech upon hearing of Lady Macbeth's suicide:
"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow..."[Act V, Scene V, Lines 17-28]) This
speech is less an expression of grief than it is a speech about the meaningless
of life.

The second point is that evil disrupted nature itself. In nature, there is a
time and a place for everything. For example, a flower blooms when the laws of
nature says it should, neither sooner, nor later. When Macbeth achieves the
crown by murder, he upsets the natural order of his life along with the order of
Scotland. Without the rightful, God-given king on the throne, all of society is
disordered. Under Macbeth's rule, there can only be chaos and evil. Even nature
becomes disturbed: (the Old Man and Ross discuss all the strange things that
have been happening since Duncan's death in act II, Scene IV, Lines 1-19: "...It
is dark during the day; an owl killed a hawk. 'the opposite of what really
happens' ,Duncan's horses ate eachother!...") Nearly every scene contains
references to unnatural actions. When Macbeth is killed and Malcolm takes the
throne, natural order is restored.

The third point is that evil is like a disease. Like a disease, evil infects its
victims and makes them sicken until they eventually die. Once Macbeth kills
Duncan, he is committed to a course of lying and killing as I stated in the
opening paragraph. His sense of right and wrong is eaten away even before he is
killed. Macbeth is dying of a diseased spirit and he knows it. ("...And that
which should accompany old age, As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, I
must not look to have; but, in their stead, Curses not loud but deep." [Act V,
Scene III, Lines 24-27]) In this soliloquy, he senses that his life is over.
Scotland is also infected, and Macbeth is its disease. The longer Macbeth
remains king, the worse things get. When Macbeth is finally is overthrown, the
country is healed. The forth and probably the most important point is that evil
corrupts an individual and their ways. This is extremely clear in "Macbeth".
Macbeth being "sucked into" evil changed drastically. At the beginning of the
play, the thought of murder made him miserable. He seems to have a conscience on
what he is doing is wrong. Toward the end when evil has entered Macbeth's soul
and conquered him, his actions reflect the evil within him through the murders
that he plots and also his "lying ways" throughout the play. He is willing to do
whatever it took for his ambition, even go so far to kill his best friend and an
innocent family which gained him nothing! Lady Macbeth on the other hand, had
some sort of evil within her from the beginning of the story. The evil within
her made her go mad and caused her to die a tragic death of suicide.

Evil, unfortunately is a very powerful force once it gets a hold of you once,
it's extremely difficult to let go of. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth experienced a
sort of evil that would never let go until they died. Since at the beginning of
the story, Macbeth gained his position as king by killing the king, they thought
that performing evil acts would get them higher in life. It was sort of
addicting to them. They did everything violently to get what they wanted. It's
unfortunate that many think that way. That you have to take drastic actions as
far as death to get what you want is really a sad case. But also, if they think
that they will get away with it, they are wrong. They will eventually pay the
price, whether instantly or with time as Lady Macbeth and Macbeth eventually did
in the play of "Macbeth".

 

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