To What Extent Is Macbeth A Play

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To What Extent Is ?Macbeth? A Play That Deals With Good And Evil? Essay, Research Paper In this essay I will be looking at Macbeth, a play written by William Shakespeare, and to what extent it deals with good and evil. The play tells the story of how a noble warrior, Macbeth, descends into evil after meeting with three witches ? supernatural beings who prophesy Macbeth?s destiny. He is told he will become King of Scotland, and this idea of gaining power leads him to murder the king, take his throne and then continue his ?murder spree? on seemingly whoever he feels like. Eventually Macbeth is slain and order is restored in Scotland. Personally I think that Macbeth is a play concerned wholly with the battle between good and evil ? throughout the play we continually see signs of

a supernatural struggle between the two, with evil ?winning? over good when Macbeth murders the king, but then good finally defeating evil when Macbeth is slain. In fact, very the opening scene we see signs of supernatural happenings and evil ? the witches: Fair is foul and foul is fair; Hover through the fog and filthy air (Witches, I, 1, 11-12) Here we see that, to the witches, what is evil is good (?foul is fair?) and what is good they find repulsive (?fair is foul?). This seems to be their attitude to life, but it could also be a warning to the audience that things to follow are not what they might seem. In the following scene we hear of an honourable Macbeth, fighting valiantly for his king against enemies: For brave Macbeth ? well he deserves that name ? Disdaining fortune,

with his brandished steel, Which smoked with bloody execution? (Captain, I, 2, 16-18) Here there is a contrast between scenes I and II, with evil being shown in I and good being shown in II. However, it is in scene III that good and evil collide, when Macbeth meets with the witches. In this scene the witches prophesy Macbeth?s future ? one hails him with his current title, Thane of Glamis. Another greets him with the title ?Thane of Cawdor?, a title he does not currently possess. The third witch hails him as ?King Hereafter?, which surprises him greatly, and sends his mind into mental turmoil: All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter! (Witches, I, 3, 48-50) Banquo, Macbeth?s

friend, is equally surprised, but he sees that something evil is at work and attempts to warn Macbeth. However, Macbeth is already thinking of what will happen if he does become King ? this is the very beginning of his descent into evil. Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But ?tis strange: And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray?s In deepest consequence (Banquo, I, 3, 121-126) In scene 4 we see Macbeth being presented with the title ?thane of cawdor? (what the second witch prophesied) and it appears that Macbeth will continue to live honourably and let ?chance? run its course, and if he does become king then so be it. However, when he sees Duncan name his son Malcolm

as his successor Macbeth begins thinking and realises he must do something. We will establish our estate upon Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter The prince of Cumberland (Duncan, I, 4, 37-40) The prince of Cumberland! ? that is a step, On which I must fall down, or else o?erleap, For in my way it lies (Macbeth, I, 4, 47-50) In the next scene we are introduced to Lady Macbeth, and it is soon clear that she is the ambition, the ?driving force?, behind her husband. She knows of his ambition but fears he is too noble to fulfil the third prophecy. We also see a clear indication of evil spirits being present in this scene ? Lady Macbeth calls upon them to make her ruthless so she can kill Duncan. Come you spirits, That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from