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The Horrendous Evil Within Shakespeare's Macbeth

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The Horrendous Evil Within Macbeth

Macbeth by William Shakespeare is a recognized classic tragedy portraying the victory of good over evil. This paper will explore the various expressions of evil within the play.

In Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies, Maynard Mack compares the fall of Macbeth to the fall of Satan:

In some ways Shakespeare's story resembles the story of the Fall of Satan. Macbeth has imperial longings, as Satan has; he is started on the road to revolt partly by the circumstance that another is placed above him; he attempts to bend the universe to his will, warring against all the bonds that relate men to each other - reverence, loyalty, obedience, truth, justice, mercy, and love. But again, as in Satan's case, to no avail. (187)

Blanche Coles states in Shakespeare's Four Giants the evil intentions of Lady Macbeth:

Lady Macbeth is at the same time greater and lesser than her husband. She has a hardness which he lacks, but she has none of his subtlety and perception. She knows her husband well and despises him a little, but to satisfy her ambition, which is a crude desire to see her man King, she will devote herself soul and body to evil. (62)

Lily B. Campbell in her volume of criticism, Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes: Slaves of Passion,

explains the very evil intentions of the weird sisters:

If we accept Scene v of Act III as canonical, we must accept it as a prologue to Act IV, and if we accept it, much of the mystery of the witches is gone. We are not allowed to be in doubt concerning the evil intention of Hecate, and we hear the ideas of King James re-echoed in her proposal further to raise "such artificial sprit...

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...n Women Reading Shakespeare 1660-1900. Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, eds. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1997.

Kermode, Frank. "Macbeth." The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1972.

Knights, L.C. "Macbeth." Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.

Mack, Maynard. Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Warren, Roger. Shakespeare Survey 30. N.p.: n.p., 1977. Pp. 177-78. Rpt. in Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism. Stanley Wells, ed. England: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.
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