Who is responsible for the evil in ‘Macbeth’?
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There is a lot of evil in the play of ‘Macbeth’ and I feel that Macbeth himself is responsible for this.
At the beginning of the play we meet our first possible source of evil ‘the witches’. When we first meet them much drama is added by the effects of thunder and rain. This gives the impression of evil. When the witches talk it is effective because it is more of a chant, they chant about meeting again, “When shall we three meet again? In thunder lightening or in rain?” We see that the witches are evil but they appear to have a supernatural element to them because they are predicting the future. They predict a battle and know who will win ~ “When the battle is lost and won”.
When Macbeth meets the three witches for the first time they say to him “all hail” which makes us think he has a lot of importance and that Macbeth may be or become “Thane of Glamis” “Thane of Cawdor” “and king here after” After the witches mention this to Macbeth he starts to wonder maybe if it is true. This is when Shakespeare helps us to understand that a little seed of evil has been planted into his head! Macbeth then becomes confused because he does not se how he could be Thane of Cawdor or even king.
He knows that King Duncan is still alive and the only way he could become king is if Duncan was to die. Macbeth is with Banquo so the witches foresee Banquo’s future as well “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none” which implies that he will not be king but his children will be! At the time this is mentioned Ross comes onto the scene with a message for Macbeth letting him know that he has now been made Thane of Cawdor. This immediately makes Macbeth think that ALL the witches’ prophecies are true! Later on in the play we see Macbeth’s ambition when he finds out that Malcolm is next to become king. We start to realize that little seed of evil is soon going to be sprouting roots.
In act one scene five Lady Macbeth receives a letter from Macbeth explaining about himself being Thane of Cawdor and that the three witches predicted he was going to be king.
Shakespeare then shows Lady Macbeth reading the letter alone using a soliloquy and then we hear a dramatic soliloquy from her letting the audiences know she is going to make Macbeth be king even if she has to kill Duncan herself but is concerned that Macbeth is too kind and loyal to consider it. “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be what thou art promis’d: yet do I fear thy nature, it is too full o’th’ milk of humane kindness.” After hearing this everybody in the audience knows she is evil because she makes no effort to disguise the fact of it. It is her decision to kill King Duncan.
Later Duncan arrives at Macbeth’s castle and Shakespeare shows Lady Macbeth to be extremely two faced “look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it.” Macbeth feels uncertain about killing Duncan because he is worried of being caught. He tries to make his feelings heard towards Lady Macbeth “We shall proceed no further in this business” but Lady Macbeth with her short temper and powerful cleverly spoken words “how tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me, I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this.” quickly makes Macbeth change his mind you could say that she talked him into it.
When everybody is sleeping in the castle Macbeth sees a dagger and Shakespeare leaves it up to the audience to decide whether it is in Macbeth’s imagination or whether it is supernatural but this dagger leads him on to murder King Duncan. After the murder Macbeth feels extremely guilty and afraid “Macbeth does murder sleep Macbeth shall sleep no more.” Macduff discovers King Duncan’s body and everybody is shocked!
They all believe that the guards were responsible for his murder until Macbeth tells them that he had killed the guards because he was so furious about them killing the king! This makes the others more so ‘Macduff’ suspicious “Wherefore did you so?” So Lady Macbeth faints to try and draw attention away from her husband. By doing this the audience knows that Lady Macbeth is still in charge! In the next act Macbeth speaks with Banquo and discovers that he is going riding he makes sure he knows where he’s going riding. In the soliloquy following ‘Macbeth’ and Banquo’s conversation we hear Macbeth say “upon my head they plac’d a fruitless crown, and put a barren scepter in my gripe” which means he is dissatisfied with being king.
After the murder the audience can see Lady Macbeth concerned for the first time, although she does try and put on a brave face for Macbeth. “Application of these terrible dreams that shake us nightly” Lady Macbeth’s state of mind is brought on by guilt. In the banquet scene Shakespeare shows the audience that Lady Macbeth still has control when Macbeth humiliates himself in front of all the Thanes when he sees Banquo’s ghost. Shakespeare does this by portraying her in complete control by her sending all the other Thanes away. Her being in control has been an issue constantly repeating itself through the play. Lady Macbeth towards the end of the play is very ill she is a very disturbed woman this is shown by her sleep walking. She is extremely guilty. It was obvious it wouldn’t be long until her death.
The three witches who entered the play in a particularly dramatically way are foul creatures who have constantly tricked Macbeth through the play. In their final scene they tell Macbeth some exceedingly good news, so the audience thinks until this is revealed as false and misleading information. There is plenty of dramatic tension brought into the play by the witches and Shakespeare has cleverly done this through the language they use and also in their appearance.