Use of Night and Darkness in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Use of Night and Darkness in Macbeth

Shakespeare is known for his descriptively rich plays. He also ways does an excellent job of describing both the characters as well as the setting. One specific area of the play MacBeth is the use of night and darkness to show evil or happening that are not right. Examples of this are the many appearances of the witches, the murders that occur, and the conflicts that MacBeth faces with his mental health. The following three paragraphs will further discuss these topics.

The first example of Shakespeare’s use of night and darkness in the appearances of the three witches. The witch sisters are the main sources of evil within the play MacBeth. When the witches are in an act, storms or the darkness of the woods always accompanies them. This shows great evilness. " Thunder and lightning. Enter three witches." This is the opening scene description just before the introduction to the witches. This shows their evil nature as the are followed by rough storms in dark conditions. Another quote is " Fair is fowl and fowl is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air." This is another example of the disgusting and dirty, dark atmosphere around the witches. Then, towards the end of Hecate’s, queen of witches, speech, she says "Hark! I am called. My little spirit, see: Sits a foggy cloud and it stays for me." This shows a clear mental picture of the fogy, ugly conditions, which are prominent, when the witches are around. So this is a very good example of Shakespeare being able to link darkness and stormy conditions with evil.

The second example of Shakespeare writing techniques to show evil as darkness is the number of murders and when it was that they occurred. When there was a murder, it was often committed at night or in the dark. This then also ties in with the entire connection of darkness with evil, murder being the source of evil.

The most known example of murder is when MacBeth kills Banquo. During his speech where he is proceeding to kill Banquo he says " ...Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse the curtained sleep. Witchcraft celebrates pale Hecate’s offerings , and withered Murder , alarumed by his sentiel , the wolf , who’s howl’s his watch....." The references to the dreams, sleep, witches and the wolf’s howl all depict the nighttime as this is when most of those words are seen.
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