Contrasting Evil and Good in Macbeth

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In this essay I will look at the ways that Shakespeare has contrasted evil with good in his play Macbeth. The play revolves around the bad and wicked qualities in human nature, but Shakespeare also contrasts this evil with the power of good. This contrast between good and evil is a recurring theme throughout Macbeth.

These contradictions start in the very beginning of the play, with the witches. In Act one, Scene one, line 12, the witches say, “Fair is foul and foul is fair.” This is interesting as they are suggesting good and evil as being one. The witches’ line reflects on human nature as there are fair and foul aspects to everyone. Shakespeare wanted to get this message across as the main character, Macbeth, is a prime example of the struggle between good and bad within one person.

This opening scene is set in a battle field. The scary thunder and lightening is an example of pathetic fallacy; the weather reflects the aggressive atmosphere and vicious characters. An evil atmosphere is established and the witches, too, are instantly established as evil.

The witches speak in rhyming couplets which sound like they are casting a spell. This shows the audience that these characters are to be feared as they are not natural beings.

The second witch says in line 4, “When the battle’s lost, and won.” This is another contradiction from the witches. It shows that there are always two sides to every story, for example, in a battle, one side will win and one side will lose. I think this shows that the witches are untrustworthy because they never give a direct answer. This means that they will never tell a lie but what they say may be interpreted to mean something else.

In line 8, the witches mention that they will “meet with Macbeth”. ...

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...f humanity and compassion, unlike Macbeth.

When he hears of Lady Macbeth’s death from his servant, Seyton, Macbeth is less than indifferent. He feels no grief, just inconvenience, “she should have died hereafter.”

His reaction shows that he has lost all kindness. Macbeth is now so self-centred that he has no emotion to spare.

Shakespeare used many comparisons between good and bad in Macbeth. Good and evil are as direct a contrast as black and white; I think that by juxtaposing the bad with the opposing good, Shakespeare made the bad seem even worse and even more extreme. This is because the audience are able to see the evil and good emotions taking place and can see the direct contrast themselves.

Even though this play is focused on the evil in human nature and portrays human nature at its worst, the audience is left with some hope of good triumphing over evil.

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