Evil in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Evil in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

Evil. It is a word that has been used for hundreds of years, yet the

meaning is ones interpretation of what is evil. The criteria for an

evil act have changed over the years also. My interpretation of evil

is a very bad or ill act against a person, animal or God. Macbeth,

'dead butcher' and evil man? This essay will discuss this question.

At the start of the play Macbeth is portrayed as a brave soldier, who

would do anything for his king and country. During the opening battle

a picture is built up in the mind of the audience. It is an image that

shows Macbeth as a brave, noble, loyal and strong man. This is achived

through the language Shakespeare uses.

"O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman"

This is just one line that is used to give one an image of 'brave

Macbeth'. The immediate reaction of the audience is that this man

could never be evil.

So a brave soldier, and a loyal man. How could this man become so evil

that it leads to his death? Ambition? Could Macbeth's ambition have

been his fatal flaw? Meeting the witches could have been the cause of

Macbeth's change in character. The three witches predictions that

suggested he would become king meant he had a goal to aim for. It as

this point in the play Macbeth's ambition starts to show through.

"Thou wouldst be great,

Art not without ambition."

Lady Macbeth speaks this line when she reads of the three predictions;

it implies that the ambition to become king is already there in

Macbeth. She is a very powerful influence on Macbeth. She encourages

him on to take the opportunity to become king. The audience has an

uncomfortable ...

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... him he feels he is invincible. This shows his change in consequences.

At the start of the play he was just a thane and soldier and now he is

king of Scotland.

Macbeth, although evil, is the 'hero' of the play, and Shakespeare

creates this feeling in the audience, by showing the audience that

Macbeth's still just human and like the people in the audience. He

does this by the fact Macbeth gets killed at the end of the play and

that Macbeth recognises his own flaws.

Macbeth killed his best friend, killed the family of an enemy, and

killed the king who is chosen by God. All evil acts, but is Macbeth

evil? All these acts could have been caused by the witches-it was

believed possession was within the reach of witches. So Macbeth was

either a very evil man or he was a pawn under the control of the women

in the play.
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