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The Power of the Night in Macbeth Essay

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The world renowned masterpiece, Macbeth, is a tragedy that has lasted throughout the centuries and has had a significant impact on English literature. The play takes place in turbulent times, in which betrayal, falsehood, and concealment lead to misery. To thoroughly encompass the suffering and wickedness that take place throughout the tragedy, Shakespeare uses dark imagery which evokes a sense of foreboding and imminent evil. A.C. Bradley describes Shakespeare’s technique concerning the imagery with his quote, “Darkness, we may even say blackness, broods over this tragedy …. All the scenes which at once recur to memory take place either at night or in some dark spot.” Nighttime is associated with unscrupulous beings and actions while morning and afternoon signify all that is good and new beginnings. Time and time again, under the cover of night, the characters of Macbeth commit grave and grievous crimes that would damn the soul to hell and corrupt both the mind and body. Macbeth himself says, “Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,/ Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse” (Act III, scene iii, lines 52-53).
The period in which darkness envelopes the earth is usually the time of choice for villains to conspire because nightfall acts like a shield to hide their actions. Dimness makes specific details indistinguishable, so nighttime provides security for criminals to elude justice by supplying natural camouflage. Hence, when Macbeth wishes to conceal his immoral thoughts of murder he utters, “Stars, hide your fires;/ Let not light see my black and deep desires” (Act I, scene iv, lines 57-58). He wants his unspeakable musings concerning the fate of saintly King Duncan to remain unseen. Even...


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...e atrocities to life is augmented by the eeriness which comes with the absence of light. When nocturnal creatures awaken, the villains in the play hatch their plans to kill. As night falls, weapons are used to carry out the work of the devil instead of to protect. Macbeth uses the darkness to his advantage to slay noble men while staying safe from just punishment. Lady Macbeth’s stress overwhelms her when she is fast asleep and contributes to her future suicide at night. When blackness is mentioned in the play, trouble cannot linger far behind. Night represents all the malevolent temptations to which mortals yield; therefore, desolation and devastation which result in catastrophe occur during that time in Macbeth.





Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1915. Google Books. Web. 3 Sept. 2015.


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