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Blackness in Macbeth

Powerful Essays
Blackness in Macbeth

The Bard of Avon shows in his tragedy Macbeth an evil couple who face the dark hand of death - as a result of criminal deeds. Let us look closely at the growing, enveloping darkness of the play as it progresses.

In his book, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, H. S. Wilson identifies the darkness in the play with evil, hell, devils:

Mr. Kenneth Muir, in his introduction to the play - which does not, by the way, interpret it simply from this point of view - aptly describes the cumulative effect of the imagery: "The contrast between light and darkness [suggested by the imagery] is part of a general antithesis between good and evil, devils and angels, evil and grace, hell and heaven . . . (67-68)

A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy comments on the darkness within the play:

The vision of the dagger, the murder of Duncan, the murder of Banquo, the sleep-walking of Lady Macbeth, all come in night scenes. The Witches dance in the thick air of a storm or, 'black and midnight hags', receive Macbeth in a cavern. The blackness of night is to the hero a thing of fear, even of horror; and that which he feels becomes the spirit of the play. The faint glimmerings of the western sky at twilight are here menacing: it is the hour when the traveller hastens to reach safety in his inn, and when Banquo rides homeward t meet his assassins; the hour when 'light thickens', when 'night's black agents to their prey do rouse', when the wolf begins to howl, and the owl to scream, and withered murder steals forth to his work. (307)

In "Macbeth as the Imitation of an Action" Francis Fergusson states the place of darkness in the action of the play:

It is the phrase...

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...re: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.

Knights, L.C. "Macbeth." Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.

Lamb, Charles. On the Tragedies of Shakespeare. N.p.: n.p.. 1811. Rpt in Shakespearean Tragedy. Bratchell, D. F. New York, NY: Routledge, 1990.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. http://chemicool.com/Shakespeare/macbeth/full.html, no lin.

Warren, Roger. Shakespeare Survey 30. N.p.: n.p., 1977. Pp. 177-78. Rpt. in Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism. Stanley Wells, ed. England: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.
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