Good vs. Evil in Macbeth
Length: 912 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)
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The good characters in Macbeth are less interesting than the evil ones. Everybody has an 'evil seed' planted in them. Only the really evil person acts on them and commits something morally wrong. Like Macbeth. When Macbeth first received the prophecies, he actually considered them. " Two truths are told,...but what is not" (line 137-152, Pg 27-29). We see him arguing with himself and feeling disgusted that he even thought that. That was interesting because we get the feeling that something out of the ordinary is coming up and our anticipation gets into the story straightaway. At the end, we didn't expect that a murderer like Macbeth would have a dramatic and poetic imagination "To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,...And then is heard no more: it is a tale" (line 21-28, Pg 233), or that he would, even in defeat, display conscience and bravery. "I will not yield to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,...And damn'd be him that first cries 'Hold, enough!'" (line 32-39, Pg 249). We are surprised, and astonished because we see Macbeth in a different light and for that reason, he is interesting. While Banquo (the good character) on the other hand, was sceptical and quickly dismissed the idea of the prophecies, saying it was just their imagination. " Were such thing here as we do speak about? ...That takes the reason prisoner?" (line 86-89, Pg 27). That response was so predictable. There was no excitement at all.
Lady Macbeth. When she got the letter from Macbeth about the prophecies, she immediately thinks of murder and we saw how evil she really was. " The raven himself is hoarse,...To cry, 'Hold, hold!'" (line 41-57, Pg 41). Here we see her summon evil spirits to thicken her blood and to turn her milk into bitter gall and then calls on them to prevent her from feeling remorse and to remove her femineity. This is very intriguing. We didn't even expect that an apparently strong, practical, and determined woman would act in such contradiction to her womanliness. We also see her as a selfish woman when Macbeth had second thoughts about murdering King Duncan. "Was the hope drunk...Like the poor cat I' the adage?" (line 38-48, Pg 59), "What beast was't then...As you have done to this" (line 52-64, Pg 59). She then attacks his manhood to persuade him to kill Duncan.
She was even cruel to Macbeth-her own husband. Then she says that if she promised Macbeth something, she would carry it out even if it were killing her own child. We now see her here as a disturbed, yet fascinating woman. After she murders Duncan, she consequently, suffers from overwhelming guilt, paranoia, which leads to madness and violent suicide at the end. "Out, damned spot! Out I say! One, two: why,...blood in him" (line 32-37, Pg 213). Lady Macbeth had been sleepwalking, always with a candle and is often appearing to be washing her hands then writing a piece of paper then locking it up. "Since his majesty went into the field, I have...bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep" (line 3-7, Pg 211). This scene opens our eyes to what guilt can really do to a person. It holds our attention; therefore Lady Macbeth is an interesting character.
The evil witches are (in my opinion, the most interesting) they had the idea to play a very nasty 'mind game' on Macbeth. Manipulation was the most interesting part here. " All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!...Banquo, and Macbeth, all hail!" (The witches then vanish making us wonder what the real purpose of their presence was. We get the impression that they are conniving misfits who are going to cause more trouble on the way. We are eager to see what they're going to do next. They did cause big trouble, for they gave Macbeth false confidence, which partly led to his downfall.
In this scene the witches are in a dark cave. In the middle, a cauldron is boiling, there is thunder. "Double, double, toil and trouble;...In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog," (line 10-15, Pg 169). We are captivated by the supernatural vibe that the witches send out. We are also revolted to what the witches put in their cauldron.
After that, Macbeth appears, asking them for answers. "I conjure you, by that which you profess,...To what I ask you" ( line 50-61, Pg 171). The witches decide to trick him again. "...beware Macduff Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me enough." First apparition: an armed Head. (line 77-78, Pg 173). "Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for non of woman born Shall harm Macbeth" Second apparition: a bloody child (line 83-87, Pg 173). "Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care...Shall come against him" Third apparition: a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand (line 98-102, Pg 173). The witches cunningly gave him a double meaning which will (again) give him false confidence. This then leads Macbeth to feeling foolish when he finds out that the witches tricked him. Therefore the evil witches are more interesting characters than the good characters.
In conclusion, the evil characters are more interesting than the good characters -who only do 'what is right', thus resulting in a predictable outcome, while the evil characters commit unpredictable acts- surprising us and holding our attention.