Duality of Human Nature

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The play Macbeth by William Shakespeare explores human nature as a loyal soldier named Macbeth discovers his fate to become king, but not have any heirs. He responds to this information by killing the reining king, Duncan. However, before committing murder, he contemplates very hard whether he should murder Duncan, against whom he bears no ill will, and great indecision and doubt marks this process. Macbeth’s reaction to killing Duncan, in which he follows a much darker path, reveals and expresses the multi-faceted quality of human nature. Shakespeare expresses the duality of human nature through pairs of opposites, changes within a character’s mind and personality and through the facades and deception many characters practice. Throughout the play, Shakespeare uses opposites to convey the duality of human nature. In the beginning of the play, the three witches, who later reveal Macbeth’s fate to him, plan where and when they will convene to disclose this information to Macbeth. Before leaving, they all say in unison: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (1.1.12). Foul and fair have opposite meanings, but in this passage, Shakespeare uses these words interchangeably. In addition, the identical structure of both phrases only emphasizes the duality of these words, since nothing else has duality in the sentence. Since sentence is separated into two parts and has only two descriptive words, it shows the duality of this statement, and by extension, human nature. With this equivocation filled with duality, Shakespeare portrays the duality of human nature. Along with opposites, Shakespeare portrays human nature’s duality through changes in the character’s personality. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth comes across as a loyal soldier, ... ... middle of paper ... ...of human nature. Through opposites, changes in character and appearances, Shakespeare expresses the duality of human nature. Along with showing the duality of human nature, these things also have an ambiguous and inconsistent quality to them. The ambiguity and inconsistency of them show that human nature also possesses those qualities, since they all play a very large role in human nature, and thus attributes such qualities to the play. Also, this wavering character of human nature directly contrasts the certainty and stability of nature, which almost never changes and always works against Macbeth after he kills Duncan. This shows that duality does not exist only within human nature, but that it also can be one side of a duality. This duality would be the contrast between human nature and nature, which are almost opposite in their qualities and in terms of change.
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