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Macbeth's Sinister Side

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Macbeth's Sinister Side

When the audience experiences Macbeth by William Shakespeare, it is subjected to a large and heavy dose of evil in the form of intent and actions by the witches, by Lady Macbeth and by Macbeth.

L.C. Knights in the essay "Macbeth" specifies the particular species of evil present within the play:

Macbeth defines a particular kind of evil - the evil that results from a lust for power. The defining, as in all the tragedies, is in strictly poetic and dramatic terms. It is certainly not an abstract formulation, but lies rather in the drawing out of necessary consequences and implications of that lust both in the external and the spiritual worlds. Its meaning, therefore, is revealed in the expansion and unfolding of what lies within the initial evil, in terms of direct human experience. (93)

In "Macbeth as the Imitation of an Action" Francis Fergusson describes the evil course of action within the drama:

At this point there is the brief interlude with the Doctor. The king's evil and its cure and the graces which hang about the English throne are briefly described. [. . .] It marks the turning point, and it introduces the notion of the appeal by faith to Divine Grace which will reverse the evil course of the action when Malcolm and Macduff learn to outrun reason in that way, instead of by responding to the Witches' supernatural solicitations as Macbeth has done. (110)

Clark and Wright in their Introduction to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare interpret the main theme of the play as intertwining with evil:

While in Hamlet and others of Shakespeare's plays we feel that Shakespeare refined upon and brooded over his thoughts, Macbeth seems as if struck out at a heat and imagined from first to last with rapidity and power, and a subtlety of workmanship which has become instructive. The theme of the drama is the gradual ruin through yielding to evil within and evil without, of a man, who, though from the first tainted by base and ambitious thoughts, yet possessed elements in his nature of possible honor and loyalty. (792)

The Tragedy of Macbeth opens in a desert place with thunder and lightning and three Witches who are anticipating their meeting with Macbeth, "There to meet with Macbeth." They all say together the mysterious and contradictory "Fair is foul, and foul is fair.
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