Evil in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

Evil in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Evil in William Shakespeare's Macbeth


Evil is a word that some people use loosely, but it is a powerful word
that cannot be used easily. In Macbeth there are some truly evil acts,
for example a man who attempts to kill his best friends son, a man who
kills his king and someone who hires hit men to do his dirty work. In
this essay I will answer the question 'is Macbeth evil?'

At the beginning Macbeth is a general in the king's army. He was an
excellent soldier in the army, His sword "smok'd with bloody
execution" and he was well known for butchering soldiers:

He unseam'd him from the nave to th' chops

King Duncan is very pleased with Macbeth's fighting and calls him a
"worthy gentleman". When Macbeth kills in battle he is considered a
great soldier but why not evil? Is it because he kills the enemy? Is
it because of the time frame? Is it because in that ere killing
someone in battle was very honourable affiance?

After the glorious battle Macbeth and Banquo (Macbeth's best friend
and partner general) were on their way home when they discovered three
wrenched witches. Banquo at first took not much notice but Macbeth was
astonished that the devilish communicators could tell him what he was
and what he would become:

All hail Macbeth, hail the Thane of Glamis

All hail Macbeth, hail the Thane of Cawdor

All hail Macbeth, thou shall be king ever after

After this Banquo grew more interested and enquired about himself. I
think this was the turning point, did the witches burn their words
into his soul?

When Macbeth arrives home he informs his wife of the witches
predictions and that one of them has come true! She retaliates by
being very enforcing on making the last prediction come true. She
wants to overtake him:

I may pour my spirits in thine ear

Macbeth resists Lady Macbeth's charm and says, " We shall proceed no
further in this business" but Lady Macbeth does not back down and

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Macbeth decides to perform the ghastly deed. I think that if it wasn't
for Lady Macbeth than Macbeth would have waited for the wish to come
true not go and achieve it himself.

Lady Macbeth takes the lead by drugging the guards and leave Macbeth
to murder king Duncan. Macbeth shows know remorse for his leader and
friend and stabs him numerous times. After this he runs to the well
and tries to wash the blood off his hands but says that the water
would turn red instead of his hands being washed. Lady Macbeth tells
Macbeth not to worry and that everything will be ok but he continues
to worry about what he had done 'I may wash my hands but they will
never be clean'. This shows use that he still has a conscience and
regrets what he has done. When Macbeth becomes king, he becomes more
confident and assured about his new found power. At the moment I think
an audience don't hate Macbeth because he regrets what he had done and
because he is a great worrier.

When he orders the murder of his best friend Banquo and his son by
death by assassin. We think this terrible because he is not killing
and it is the coward's way out. The only reason he does this is
because Banquo's son is a threaten to the throne:

Thou shall get kings though thou shall be none.

So to make sure he stays in his position he tries to kill them. Banquo
dies to save his son and he son escapes.

When Macbeth orders the excruciation of Macduff's family we think this
is awfal because at the start of the scene it is a loving mother and
her young child bathing when soldiers march in and sexually assault
the women before killing them. Macbeth at this stage has gone rock
bottom from Worthy thane to a butcher! This would appear very evil on
stage because it is a brutal murder and the scene goes from a high to
a low.

Macbeth has gone from a respected worrier to a "dead butcher" I think
all because of greed and want for power. At the start his "fiend like"
wife influenced him but later they swapped roles and she started
hallucinating leaving him to strive forward and be a brutal leader.
Even at death we as an audience don't want him to die, could this be
because he is still a courageous soldier and shows a humane side at
the end when he knows his going to die. I think Macbeth's fatal flaw
was that he was easily influenced by the witches and they said what he
could be but he was the one how made it happen could this be because
he is power hungry.

I conclude that I think Macbeth is not evil just easily influenced by
dark ways and is greedy. If it was not for the witches giving him hope
of becoming a great figure he was the one who chased the dream. As an
audience we can forgive Macbeth because he is a true worrier who
fights courageously.
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