Potential For Evil In Shakespeare's Macbeth

672 words - 3 pages

Macbeth and the Human Potential for Evil   

 

Macbeth is a study of the human potential for evil; it illustrates, though not
completely in a religious context, the Christian concept of humanity’s loss of God’s
grace.  The triumph of evil in a man with many good qualities becomes evident, as the
reader is made aware that the potential for evil is frighteningly present in all of humanity
and needs only wrong circumstances and a relaxation of our desire for good to consume
ones mind.  The good in Macbeth cries out poingnantly through his feverish imagination,
but the instigation of a supernatural power, Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth’s worldy
ambition all combine to crush his better nature.
 Shakespeare’s depiction of supernatural evil in Macbeth takes shape within
Macbeth who himself is the representation of the supernatural world; this is seen as his
ambition leads him to a dependence on the Witches as well as their predictions, and it is
this dependence which consumes him and allows the evil and supernatural to command
his life.  Evil exhists outside the protagonist in the world of black magic, represented
most strikingly by the Witches.  The appearance of these embodiments of the Devil in the
opening act establishes the play’s tone of mysterious evil.  The Witches cause Macbeth to
respond in ways that along with the Witches predictions, fuel his ambition.  When
Macbeth finally recognizes that their predictions were not what they seemed, he
denounces “ ‘th’ equivocation of the fiend, that lies like the truth’”  As the words roll off
his tongue Macbeth touches on the Witches most important quality, that they deform the
lives they interfere with because they disturb a necessary element of human society, its
dependence on mutual trust. 
 Macbeth’s relation to evil is symbolic.  Lady Macbeth, too, though she rejects her
husbands scruples, is entirely aware that the proposed murder is evil.  She avoids mention
ing it too explicitly, and she can not bring herself to do the deed herself, because Duncan
looks like her father.  Finally in Act 5 Scene 1, her anguished madness, confirmed by her
suicide, demostrates her inability to absorb what she has helped unleash.  Thus, she also...

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