Macbeth: Theme of Night vs Day and Evilness
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (I.i.10). This becomes the key
phrase in describing Macbeth's downfall. It defines the night vs. day
motif, foreshadowing the evil that will soon come. The night vs. day motif
is so important in bringing out the theme of evil in this play because
almost all of the elements of Macbeth's downfall are revealed at night.
Sleeplessness, murder, and the witches' prophecies all become relevant as
the drama unfolds.
When the witches tell Macbeth that he will soon be the Thane of
Cawdor, his ambition blossoms. Before long he realizes that he has to get
Duncan out of his way. He then starts something he is not mentally ready
to start when he kills Duncan. The first glimpse of evil comes that night.
After he has done his deed, the paranoia sets in. “But wherefore could not
I pronounce ‘Amen'?” (II.ii.31). Macbeth realizes that the “goodness” is
starting to drift away. He looks at his hands and sees his guilt, the
The next example of evil at night is when the sleeplessness sets in
and Macbeth's guilt starts to get the best of him. He slowly starts going
mad because of his guilt and begins to worry. Macbeth tries to snap out of
it and act normal so that nobody will suspect anything, but he gets worse.
“Methought I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep'”
(II.ii.35-36). Macbeth's sleeplessness means the more sleep he loses, the
more he is exposed to night, which is evil.
The witches play a key role in turning Macbeth into the paranoid,
dangerous person that he his. They basically ignite the tragedy as well as
Macbeth's fate when they tell him he will be Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth was
not aware of the problems that the prophecy would soon create, nor was he
aware that it would bring him to his end. The...