The Evil Of Darkness: Symbolism And Meaning In Mac

821 words - 3 pages

Just as any member of today?s society will liken darkness to an evil force, so William Shakespeare uses darkness in Macbeth to symbolize evil in his characters and to establish the mood of the play; all of this contributes to the grand theme of the evil and wickedness of excess ambition. The three witches and Macbeth are all primary illustrations of Shakespeare?s development of character traits through the symbol of darkness. First, the witches? meetings are all in times of darkness and gloom, such as on the Scottish moor during a tempest in Act I, Scene 1. They also meet in a dark cave, an appropriate setting for the witches because of the stereotypical murk and gloom of caves and their likeness to the concept of the underworld where evil broods. The association of witches and hell was commonplace in Shakespeare?s time, thus making them seem all the more evil and ghastly to the reader. The witches? appearance also contributes to the feeling of their evil nature. Macbeth describes them as being ?secret, black and midnight hags,? which supports the darkness motif through the words ?black and midnight? and characterizes the witches as evil antagonists (IV, 1, 47). Banquo also calls them ?instruments of darkness? after their first prophecy comes true (I, 3, 124). The witches contribute to the overall theme of the evil of ambition by foretelling Macbeth?s dark fate, which is an obstacle he attempts to overcome to reach his self-indulgent goals, but he fails. Macbeth, too, is a prevalent player in Shakespeare?s characterization of darkness as a symbol of evil. As in the blatant statement ?Let not light see my black and deep desires,? the stage is set for the discovery of Macbeth?s corruption (I, 4, 58). Shakespeare goes on to portray Macbeth as an evilly ambitious character who wants power and prestige and will stop at nothing short of death to attain it. Ironically, it is death that Macbeth gets. After a series of events leading to his power as king (namely, the murders of Duncan and Banquo) create in Macbeth an increasing sense of ambition and evil. He goes from a reluctant man who is prodded mainly by his wife to one who is driven by greed and ambition into a fervor that causes him to become a virtual juggernaut that destroys everything in his path to power. The darkness that accompanies him throughout the play...

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