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Macbeth Contrast Between Light And Dark As Symbols For Life And Death

1085 words - 5 pages

The opposition of light and dark as symbols for life and death is the foundation upon which much of Shakespeare's Macbeth is built. Darkness in our society is indicative of many symbols of evil. For instance, a black cat, dark night, and dark place are all ominous symbols. Light, as it is used in Macbeth, often seems to be indicative of truth or life. The contrast between light and dark in Macbeth can best be seen through the dialogue of the characters and the ambiance of scenes in the play.The characters in Macbeth make several references to light and darkness throughout the play. For example in Act 1 Macbeth says, "Stars, hide your fires; let not see my black and deep desires..." ...view middle of the document...

She has light by / her continually. 'Tis her command." (Bevington pg. 695). This scene indicates that Lady Macbeth is afraid of the dark because she doesn't want to be bothered by the dead that can appear as ghosts to haunt her in the night. Lastly, in Act 5 Macbeth admits, "I gin to be aweary of the sun". (Bevington pg.704). This may be a reflection of his awareness that Good (the sun) is gaining the upper hand in its struggle with Evil. The dialogue spoken by the characters greatly demonstrates the contrast between light and darkness, but Shakespeare also utilizes atmosphere to broaden the notion.The use of light and dark imagery bring a heavy tone to the play. It is used to portray an image of a desolate, deranged place, full of tumult and disorder. Images of night and darkness are often used at times in the play when a death has occurred, or some other evil action has taken place. Examples of this are the many appearances of the witches and the murders that occur. The witches are the main sources of evil within the play. When the witches are in an act, storm or the darkness of the woods constantly accompanies them. In the first scene of the play, the witches are depicted as agents of evil because of the dark domain around them. The weather is described as thunder and lightning. Then, in acts 1, 3, and 4, the scenes featuring the witches have the element of thunder in them. Darkness is again associated with evil when Macbeth describes the witches' appearance as "secret, black, and midnight hags".The imagery of light and darkness plays an important role in the scenes wherein murders occur. For example, in Act 2 while Fleance and Banquo are discussing the conditions of the night, Fleance states, "The moon is down." and Banqo replies, "There is husbandry in heaven; / Their candles are all out." (Bevington, pg. 641). In this exchange the reader learns that the...

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