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'macbeth' It Is Unusual To Find A Character In Drama Who Is Entirely Evil

1336 words - 6 pages

Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, is a classic tragedy involving the uprising, and eventual downfall, of two seemingly evil people, Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth. It is unusual to find a character in drama who is entirely evil. Throughout Macbeth, both Macbeth and his wife commit vile, evil actions. However, because they know that their actions were wrong, they show that they have a conscience, and so cannot be correctly described as 'wholly evil'.It is true to say that many of Macbeth's actions are evil. His list of crimes is extensive. He kills King Duncan, one of his relatives, hires men to kill his best friend, Banquo, has men kill Macduff's wife and children, plants spies in the ...view middle of the document...

Whilst he is ready and willing to commit horrible acts of evil to achieve his ambitions, he is tormented by the mere thought of his crimes. In addition, before he commits the crimes, Macbeth feels uncomfortable about committing the crimes. Unlike stereotypical villains in drama, Macbeth seems to have retained a normal sense of ethics and morality. Macbeth knows his crimes are wrong, they horrify him, and he does not enjoy committing evil acts. When plotting to kill King Duncan, Macbeth tries to tell Lady Macbeth that he will not kill King Duncan, saying, "We will proceed no further in this business: / He hath honoured me of late; and I have bought / Golden opinions from all sorts of people, / which would be worn now in their newest gloss, / Not cast aside so soon." (Act I, Scene VII, Lines 31-35). In showing his discomfort over committing these crimes, as well as being tormented by their memory later on in Macbeth, he shows that he has a conscience, and so is not deserving of the title 'wholly evil'.Macbeth's crimes have a drastic effect on him. After killing King Duncan to secure the crown, Macbeth experiences nothing but anguish, as he is forced, against his will and better judgement, to commit more crimes to retain all he has gained. He is haunted by the mere thought of his murders, and throughout the story imagines apparitions, including his best friend Banquo, who he is forced to have killed to ensure nobody can provide any evidence incriminating Macbeth. As Lady Macbeth's mental state deteriorates, Macbeth feels increasingly isolated, with no friends. When Lady Macbeth commits suicide, he reflects on the trivial nature of life, saying, "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, / To the last syllable of recorded time..." (Act V, Scene v, lines 19-21). Whilst Macbeth is quite willing to commit crimes that are quite evil, he is tormented by his conscience, knowing that what he has done is morally wrong.At the beginning of Macbeth, the witches proclaim that "fair is foul and foul is fair" (Act I, Scene i, Line 10). This introduces a central theme of Macbeth to the audience: the concept of appearance versus reality. In other words, things aren't always what they appear to be. Initially, Macbeth is portrayed to the audience as brave, noble and unfitting of the title of 'evil'. However, later in the story, a very different picture develops. Macbeth commits dark, horrible crimes, and so is portrayed to the audience as evil. However, perhaps the warning given by the witches in the opening scene of the play has a deeper meaning. Whilst Macbeth appears to be evil, things may not be what they seem. The...

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