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Essay/Term paper: Evil in women and its effect on macbeth

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Macbeth

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Evil In Women and Its Effect on Macbeth

"...My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single
state of man that function Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is But what is
not." (1.3.140-143). Throughout Shakespeare's play, we see that Macbeth is the
victim of evil seduction by women. In the above quote the evil is perpetrated
by the witches. Lady Macbeth also plays a strong role in his moral corruption.
"... the influence of Lady Macbeth (though she too has an inarticulate angel
struggling against her own evil), and the instigation of a supernatural power
all combine to crush his better nature." (Boyce 391). Macbeth would not have
even thought of killing Duncan, if it were not for the influence of the witches
and his wife.
Historically, man has been corrupted by woman. Going back to the story
of Adam and Eve, we see such an example. ".. she took of the fruit thereof, and
she did eat it; and she gave it unto her husband..." (Genesis 3.6). Eve, out of
fear, beguiled Adam. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the witches, succumbing to
greed, corrupted Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth's actions parallel those of the witches. The witches
planted the idea that Macbeth should become king. Lady Macbeth followed through
with this idea by pushing Macbeth to kill Duncan. "... a very definition of the
weird sisters - calling on them to unsex her to cram her with cruelty from top
to toe..." (Bloom 29). This quote illustrates the connection between Lady
Macbeth and the witches, showing us that they both participated in Macbeth's
moral decline. Shakespeare, it seems, utilizes the symbol of the witches to
portray the basic evil inherent in Lady Macbeth. One could not have worked
without the other. If it were only the witches' prophecies, then Macbeth would
surely not have murdered Duncan. It was because Lady Macbeth constantly harassed
her husband, that he was driven to commit all this evil. "... her blood
thickened, her milk changed to gaul - into the inhuman, the distortion of
nature..." (Ludwyk 233). This illustrates the complete metamorphosis of Lady
Macbeth from a loving, beautiful, caring, kind wife to a ruthless, nasty, shrew
of a woman. The women in this play distort Macbeth's intuition so much that he
thinks he is doing the right thing. "... his liberty of free choice is
determined more and more by evil inclination and that he can not choose the
better course..." (Bloom 55). Even after the deed is done, Lady Macbeth greets
her husband and "... her greeting recalls the weird sisters." (Ludwyk 233).
This teaches us that even after the murder is done she does not return to her
former self.
This evil tears them apart. In the beginning of the play Macbeth calls
his wife, "...my dearest partner of greatness..." (1.5.11-12). At the end of
the play, however, when Lady Macbeth kills herself, he shows no sympathy. "...
she should have died here after..." (5.5.17).
Lady Macbeth uses every weapon in her arsenal, moral or immoral, to
corrupt Macbeth. "... Lady Macbeth makes a sex weapon in her efforts to spur
Macbeth's ambition." (Boyce 391). This shows that Lady Macbeth sexually enticed
Macbeth in addition to her constant nagging. She succeeded in manipulating him.
"She calls him 'My Husband' (2.2.13) when he has just killed the king . This -
the only time she calls him 'Husband' - suggests that she finds him sexually
impressive in his gore." (Ibid). Lady Macbeth actually feeds off of Macbeth's
acts of violence. She is stimulated by his savagery.
Macbeth is not so innocent. "... evil is a perversion of human values,
and the fact that he persisted in his awareness demonstrates a profound moral
disorder." (Boyce 391). The fact that Macbeth persisted shows that he knew that
what he was doing was wrong. Yet, he continued to murder.
Shakespeare opened his play with the scene of the witches to portray
evil in the mind of the audience. The audience could understand the evil that
the witches represented. Lady Macbeth, however, conjures up an image of royalty,
loyalty and goodness. In order to help us overcome our initial opinion of Lady
Macbeth, and allow us to accept her true character, Shakespeare uses the image
of the witches to help us transfer our feelings of the evil witches to Lady
Macbeth. This crafty maneuver allows the audience to accept Lady Macbeth's
development into the classic evil woman. We see that like Adam who succumbed to
Eve's urging, Macbeth falls into the same trap. His actions were controlled by
his wife, and this led to their downfall.


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