Macbeth - Evil and darkness
The play "Macbeth" by Shakespeare is jam-packed with malfeasance and darkness. All actions taken by Macbeth, his wife, Lady Macbeth, the witches and Hecate have immoral intentions and/or evil outcomes. An example of such is Lady Macbeth?s dark intentions to quicken Macbeth?s crowning, fuelled Macbeth?s "vaulting ambition[s]" (Act 1 scene 7 line 27) to murder anyone or anything that stood in his path of a long reign.
Shakespeare often uses darkness and will frequently set the scene as a dark and stormy night. This depicts that evil happenings are occurring or are about to take place. There are at least three examples of this in "Macbeth". "The night has been unruly: where we lay,/Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,/Lamentings heard i? the air; strange screams of death,..." (Act 2 scene 3 line 54-56). "Three score and ten I can remember well;/Within the volume of which time I have seen/Hours of dreadful and things strange, but this sore night/Hath trifled former knowings." (Act 2 scene 4 line 1-4). Both these quotes are talking about the night of Duncan?s death. They are showing the comparisons between the natural unruliness and the anomalous disaster. "And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp." (Act 2 scene 4 line 7) is a metaphor for both the murder of Duncan and the night in which it transpired. A dark and stormy image is also portrayed when pernicious characters (ie. the witches, Macbeth and the murderers) meet.
The witches play a very important role in "Macbeth", as they initiate the evil plot. Even from the prologue we can see the witches are evil. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair:" (Act 1 scene 1 line 11). They uphold their evil status throughout the play although their power is not fully demonstrated until the prophecies come true and also later where they conjure up the three apparitions. The witches are truly evil and love evil for its own self unlike Macbeth. "Spiteful and wrathful; who. as others do,/Loves for his own ends, not for you." (Act 3 scene 5 line 12-13). Throughout the play they provide the strongest impression of evil. They are continually committing mischievous deeds, such as, "Killing swine" (Act 1 scene 3 line 2), tormenting sailors and casting spells.
"Macbeth" is built upon evil and sorcery. Whether it be the witches "Double, double, toil and trouble;/Fire burn and cauldron bubble." (Act 4 scene 1 line 10-11), "How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!" (Act 4 scene 1 line 48), Lady Macbeth "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; make thick my blood,/Stop up the access and passage to remorse,/That no compunctious visitings of nature/Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between/ Th? effect!" (Act 1 scene 5 line 39-46), or Macbeth "Let not light see my black and deep desires;/The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be/Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see." (Act 1 scene 4 line 51-53). Shakespeare also incorporates unnatural circumstances such as Duncan?s horses eating each other "?Tis said they ate each other." (Act 2 scene 4 line 19) and the owl killing the falcon "A falcon,...Was by a mousing owl hawk?d at and kill?d" (Act 2 scene 4 line 13-14).
Shakespeare uses darkness and evil as a dominant theme because it captivates the audience and provides an intriguing setting for the play. Audiences of Shakespeare?s time were curious and enraptured in witchcraft and sorcery. The audience was beguiled by the witches yet were aghast by Macbeth?s evil doings.
On the whole "Macbeth" delves deeply into a world of evil, sorcery and darkness, both natural and unnatural.