Macbeth: Contrasts of Nature

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Macbeth: Contrasts of Nature

In the play, Macbeth, Shakespeare uses contrasts of nature in various

ways. He consistently shows us that Macbeth and his wife's actions go against


The first lines of the play are a condensed version of the unnaturalness

of things to come. "In thunder, lightning or in rain?" ( I, i, 2). In nature,

thunder, lightening and rain occur together, but Shakespeare's use of the word

"or" infers the unnatural occurrence of one without the others. "When battles

lost and won" ( I, i, 4), is also not a natural occurrence. Battles are either

lost or won. Shakespeare is implying the future opposites of nature in the

forthcoming play. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (I, i, 11), further shows

the use of inversions and paradoxs in nature that Shakespeare will use

throughout the play.

One of the main controversies of nature for the reader is that in spite

of Macbeth's evil deeds, we still find him likeable. We see him in the same way

that the King does when he welcomes him by saying, "O valiant cousin! Worthy

gentleman" (I, ii, 24). We perceive him as valiant, because he is afraid of

sacrificing his humanity. "My thought, whose murder yet is but fantasticle. /

Shakes so my single state of man that function / Is smothered in surmise and

nothing is / But what is not" (I, iii, 139-41). Macbeth has doubts about the

predictions of the witches. He knows that it could be a trick and his

misgivings make him seem to be a better person.

Another thing that makes Macbeth likeable to the reader is the contrast

with his wife. It is clear from her beginning that she is evil. She has

reservations about Macbeth not being evil enough. "Yet do I fear thy nature" (I,

V, 14). She fears he is too good to do the kind of evil deeds that she is


After Macbeth murders the King, he realizes the extent of evil that he

has committed, but also realizes that the deed is done and there is nothing that

he can do to rectify it. "As they had seen me with these hangman's hands /

List'ning their fear. I could not say ‘Amen!' / When they did say ‘God bless

us!'" (II, ii, 27-29). The fact that Macbeth is very troubled, and continues

his tirade, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood / Clean from my

hand? No, this my hand will rather / the multitudinous seas incarnadine, /

Making the green one red" (II, ii, 59-62), evokes compassion for him from the

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