evilmac Comparing the Evil of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

Comparing the Evil of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

“At the heart of William Shakespeare's Macbeth is an examination of the nature of evil and it's many faces and facets”(Cathell 119). The principal evil characters in the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, are both evil, but the manifestation of evil is different in each.

Macbeth's evil is a dynamic character trait. He begins the play as a celebrated hero, loyal to his friends and dedicated to his king. He is strong and noble, a man to be admired by his audience. Macbeth and Banquo are visited by the three witches, who promise him that he will be king. This veiled intimation ignites a secret ambition within Macbeth. Evil has dawned within him, but at this early stage of his transformation Macbeth is ashamed of his evil urges. He says,

Stars, hide your fires;

Let not light see my black and deep desires;

The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,

Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. (Shakespeare I, iv, 50)

Soon, however, Macbeth is overcome by his ambition and his fall begins. He says,

I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only

Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself/ and falls on the other. (Shakespeare I, vii, 25)

As soon as the descision to murder Duncan is made, and until his death, Macbeth is a vessel relentlessly filling with evil. Macbeth is the source of all the dastardly deeds in this play. The witches ignite his evil ambition, Lady Macbeth stokes the fire, but the blame for Duncan's murder rests squarely on the shoulders of Macbeth. Macbeth may not have held the knives that killed Banquo or Macduff's family, but the agression is his.

Lady Macbeth does not descen...

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...waits, Macbeth rushes to violence. His evil is brutal and impatient. His weakness is his inability to control his mind.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Cathell, A.L. "The Diabolic Evil in Macbeth" in Shakespeare Survey: Volume 5. Edited by Allardyce Nicoll Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996

Elliot, G.R. "Introduction: On `Macbeth' as Apex of Shakspearean Tragedy" in Shakespearean Criticism, Volume 3. Edited by Laurie Harris (Gale: 1984)

McElroy, Bernard, "`Macbeth': The torture of the Mind" in Shakespearean Criticism, Volume 3. Edited by Laurie Harris (Gale:1984)

Ribner, Irving. "Macbeth: The Pattern of Idea and Action," in Shakespearean Criticism, Volume 3. Edited by Laurie Harris (Gale:1984)

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Edited by Norman Sanders. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984)
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