Macbeth succumbs to evil through his own imperfection, greed, which in turn causes him to upset the predetermined chain of being. “Shakespeare shows, with Macbeth as an example, that any man can turn evil due to the temptations led on by many things. His temptations of evil are led on by the witches prophecies, and by being manipulated by what others say” (Rosner). When Macbeth willingly murders, lies and deceives for his own personal betterment, he loses his self and his sanity. The parasitic nature of evil cause it to influence all objects that lay in its’ path, and Macbeth agrees to become evil's disciple.
The revenge of each character ironically ended their own life. By acting upon revenge and having inimical intentions, the individuals brought fatalities that were unnecessary. Throughout Hamlet, each character’s course of revenge surrounds them with corruption, obsession, and fatality. Shakespeare shows that revenge proves to be extremely problematic. Revenge causes corruption by changing an individual’s persona and nature.
What a Difference One Word Can Make in King Lear King Lear's response to Cordellia's failure to express her love for her father in words is symbolic of King Lear's madness in the play. His madness is most clearly manifest in his need for his daughters to testify to him of their love. Cordellia's failure to say that she loves him winds up destroying him. What is fascinating though is that it is not the rejection of him that hurts so much as his dismay that his daughter would say such a thing. The last line of the selection (Conflated Version 1.1.94) highlights Lear's anger at not only the words that Cordellia speaks, but Cordellia herself.
Firstly, his egotism causes untold damage at the beginning of the play. This is evident to the audience when instead of simply dividing his land evenly amongst his three daughters, he asks for the three of them to profess their love to him first. Cordelia’s surprising reply of “Nothing” enrages Lear. His reaction seems completely irrational and by banishing Corderlia, Lear loses his only daughter who truly loves him. Coinciding with this was another imprudent decision to banish Kent, who only seeks to serve his King as best he can.
These experiences drive Lear to losing his mental sanity, however, revive his moral sanity. Lear is a character that is labelled as rash and impulsive due to actions to banish his truthful daughter, Cordelia, and giving all he owns to her materialistic sisters, Goneril and Regan. To begin with, Lear initially asks his daughters “Which of us shall we say doth love us most?” (1.1.52) in order to divide up his wealth and kingdom amongst them. This shows Lear’s insecurity toward others feeling towards him and that he needs to be constantly reminded of his power and status. This is a weakness that Goneril and Regan are able to use to their advantage by flattering lies and untruthful feelings in attempt to attain a larger portion of the kingdom, which in turn means they would be more powerful.
The most shocking and maybe also the most fatal sin of King Lear is the disinheriting and chasing out of Cordelia by her own father right at the beginning of the play. When Cordelia is asked by Lear to tell him how much she loves him she answers in a way Lear did not expect by not telling him sweet words he liked so much when they were told to him by Goneril and Regan before. She tells him that she loves him like a daughter loves her father and nothing more. Lear gets mad at her and calls for France and Burgundy, to give her to one of them as his wife. Lear disinherits Cordelia and she has to leave her home to become the wife of France.
It eventually leads Lear to madness and it is only then that he sees the true reasons behind his treatment. Goneril and Regan commit many sins against their father, which in Jacobean times would have been seen as evil or against the natural order. Shakespeare portrays this theme with both outright and subtle actions throughout the play. It is only when Lear returns to himself that the audience sees how wrong his treatment was, with the return of Cordelia, who bears no grudge. Goneril and Regan, as it may be seen, were too spoilt by their father and the Fool's words to Lear summarize what has happened.
Men like Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein have been garnered with the term ‘evil’ for their atrocities against fellow humans. Now it seems evil has a solely human significance; when a person violates the individual rights of others on a massive scale, he/she is evil. In Shakespeare’s time – the Elizabethan era – evil had a similar, but somewhat altered connotation in the human mind. Evil was an entity that violated the English Christian monarchial tradition. Therefore, a man such as Claudius, from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, a cold-blooded murderer and a ruthless manipulator, who uses “rank” deeds to usurp the thrown is in direct violation with the Elizabethan societal norms, and hence he is an evil character.