Macbeth- triumph of good over
The Shakespeare play ?Macbeth? is based upon a common theme, good versus evil, this is the basis of many novels, movies, songs, poems and other forms of literature. Although good versus evil in ?Macbeth? takes a more subtle form, it still generates the common outcome that ?Macbeth? shares with many other good versus evil stories. To completely understand the good versus evil theme in ?Macbeth? all of its direct outcomes must be considered, and will be considered in the following essay. To discuss good versus evil first good versus evil has to be defined and a common storyline found, the respective leaders of these groups must also be found. Considering ?Macbeth? in respect to the definition of good versus evil will make it clear that ?Macbeth? is a common good versus evil story. The three weird sisters and Hecate play a major role in this theme, they must be recognised and reflected on to help understand the role in the theme. Finally all of the singular human clashes must be examined as they are also good versus evil (for example Macbeth versus Macduff).
Good versus evil, commonly it is known as the good team, out smarting, out muscling or generally out-doing the evil forces and winning. In ?Macbeth?, as with most stories, it goes further than this. A more complicated story form is developed in Macbeth, but it goes along a similar line to this description. Often good and evil will start off as close friends, acquaintances or members of a similar group, when all of the sudden evil gains a string of thoughts that resemble evil beating good for their own personal gain. Evil makes their move and gets themselves in a strong position. Good finds themselves in a devastating position, very little hope, people not involved with the conflict start to believe in the evil side. Good realise that there is something that can be done and designs a plan. Good executes this plan and forces evil to take a step back, only to realise something about evil that good didn't know and must come up with a way to defeat evil on the spot. good defeats evil and becomes a hero who lives happily ever after. A sinister plot arises in more developed good versus evil stories, this is where a members of the evil group survives, not reformed, not jailed, not killed this leaves room for a sequel and adds to suspicion and curiosity of the reader (or watcher in this case), thus leaving their mind to finish the story
Evil in this play has two groups, the obvious group, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth and the group that has influenced all of this evil, Hecate and the three weird sisters. These two groups are partially related in that Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth slightly, have been influenced by what the weird sisters have informed them of, for example
But screw your courage to the sticking-place
And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep
(Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
Soundly invite him) his two chamberlains
will I with wine and wassil so convince
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be the fuma and a receipt of reason
A limbeck only, when in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
The spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
of our great quell?? (Act 1, Scene 7, l 66 - 79)
This shows that Lady Macbeth is under the weird sister's enchantments. She is simply attempting to build up the courage within herself to assassinate Duncan. Macbeth shows his guidance by the weird sister when he quotes
?I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know?(Act 1, Scene 7, l89-92)
This quote is said after Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to do the deed, Macbeth has also found the courage to complete the task that the weird sisters have set him. The three weird sisters are also instruments of evil, they feed off others actions and claim it to be their art. Thus the play ?Macbeth? has two groups that are ruled by evil, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, who do the physical evil harm and the weird sisters who mentally make mayhem.
The compatriots of ?good? in this story are more obvious, there are many minor ?good? characters but only four of them are very important. The first ?good? person was subject to the tragic death at the beginning of the play, Duncan, who was a good king, and a great leader. He was the reason that so many good men were around to avenge his death. The second was Banquo, he was the first person to suspect Macbeth of foul play and his death turned alot of suspicion onto Macbeth. The third member of ?good? in the play ?Macbeth? was Malcolm, as Duncan's son it took massive amounts of bravery to leave Scotland and even bigger amounts to return. Malcolm led an army to defeat Macbeth. The last of these most honorable members of the ?good? party is Macduff, who although was a culprit of fleeing Scotland, Macbeth was always afraid of him and eventually he killed Macbeth, which finished the terror of Macbeth's reign. These are the four main contrivers of heroism, without them the Scottish Kingdom may have been ruled by Macbeth for many years to come.
The play ?Macbeth? has one key quote that stands out, it introduces the play and all that is going to come within it.
?Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair?(Act 1, Scene 1, l 11)
This quote expresses the intentions of the weird sisters in the play ?Macbeth? and sets up the mood for the story, ?Fair is Foul?, where good will be pushed to the bottom of the human scale as they either become murdered or suspect to murder (excluding Macduff, who is forced to leave Scotland anyway). ?Foul is Fair?, things are not what they seem, foul, evil, will act in a way that at first seems fair to the inhabitants of Scotland. This quote introduces the concept of good versus evil in this play.
The first aspect of a good versus evil story is the breakdown of the relationship, in ?Macbeth?, between the two good parties, then one of them turns evil. This happens between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth/Malcolm and Duncan. The witches suggestive predictions of him cause Lady Macbeth to convince Macbeth into killing Duncan and forcing Malcolm to leave the country. Obviously a more mysterious force that is dwelling within the weird sisters is causing all of this unnecessary trouble and making a good versus evil theme.
Now, as the story goes, Malcolm is in a little bit of trouble because he knows that in his rightful kingdom, something foul has taken place and although he quite possibly does not suspect Macbeth of the murder of his father, he realises that it is too risky to go back to Scotland. Now Macbeth is in a good position because all of Scotland's residents are on his side and against Malcolm.
The story has to take a turn now, good will find a way to defeat evil, it will seem foolproof and everything seems to be going properly. In ?Macbeth? this takes place when Macduff flees Scotland for England to help Malcolm. Malcolm has already built a strong force and seems to be in control of the situation. At this point Macbeth is now looking to be in a vulnerable position. Although Macbeth was in a strong position before this act. Macbeth's downfall at this stage can be closely contributed to his hasty, not considered, murder of Macduff's family. This along with his performance at the banquet when he sees Banquo's ghost, he has brought suspicion upon himself and Lady Macbeth for all the recent bloody murders. This was motivation for Macduff to leave Scotland for England. Banquo's braveness, and death has cast suspicion on Macbeth, and helped bring ?evil? down and ?good? up.
The witches prophecy of Birnam Wood moving to Dunsinane has come true, a battle is about to start and the good side is coming into the battle very confident. Evil is quietly confident since
?....for None of women born
shall harm Macbeth.? (Act 4, Scene 1, l 88 - 89)
After Macbeth has slain young Siward he comes up against Macduff, then he informs Macduff of his supposed invincibility. This is the point that makes Macbeths position look impenetrable. Then ?good?, Macduff, finds a way to beat him and quickly informs Macbeth of his plan.
?....Macduff was from his mother's womb
Untimely ripped.? (Act 5, Scene 8, l 19 - 20)
As quickly as this is said, Macbeth is slain and the story reaches and epic conclusion as Malcolm is crowned King.
In responding to the main issues of this essay, ?how does Shakespeare display a good versus evil theme?, there is another way to display good versus evil without characters. By using night to represent evil and day to represent good, Shakespeare has gained an audience attention to his intended theme. some examples of night representing evil are Duncan's murder at night and Banquo's murder at night. Some examples of Good happening during day are the battle and Malcolm and Macduff meeting in England. Thus, not only does William Shakespeare represent his good versus evil theme via his characters but he also uses things such as day/night which help him feature good versus bad as his major theme in the play ?Macbeth?.
When examining the evil downfall there are many things that must be studied, the main thing is how Lady Macbeth contributed to this downfall. Although Macbeth's conscience kicks in regularly throughout the play,for example
?He chid the sisters
When first they put the name of King upon me
And bade them speak to him; then prophet-like
They hailed him father to a line of kings.
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If it be so,
For Banquo's issues have filed my mind,
For them the gracious Duncan I have murdered,
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them and mine external jewel
Give to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come, fate, into the list,
And champion me to the utterance? (Act 3, Scene 1, l 63 - 79)
Although this doesn't leave an impression on the outcome, since lady Macbeth is always there to help Macbeth defeat his conscience. Whereas when Lady Macbeth's conscience becomes apparent it causes her to commit suicide (in the last act), at this point Macbeth's conscience comes back and Lady Macbeth isn't there to help him control it, he fights on but know has a new fresh thought in his mind, ?was it worth it???, considering the fact that he wouldn't have a queen now this was a very valid thought. This is a point of irony in the novel, Lady Macbeth forces Macbeth not to have conscience and yet as soon as she gets one she commits suicide.
When considering the era in which this play, ?Macbeth?, was written in, it is noticed that during this era it was a common that women were gentle, soft and vulnerable. This simply means that the audience is going to be more shocked if a women acts evil than if a man, such as Macbeth, who often kills other men in battles acts evil. Thus when the ambitious Lady Macbeth presents herself as an important player in the evil theme, the audience is shocked highlighting the theme good versus evil, following is the quote that first shows Lady Macbeths evil nature and shocks the audience.
? ............unsex me here
and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top - full
Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood,
Stop the access and passage of remorse........? (Act 1, Scene 5, l 44 - 48)
Another extension is this story which is uncommon in most good versus evil stories is the way that instead of murdering Malcolm and Donalbain he gets them publicly hated, especially by the other members of the ?good? side, thus producing a good versus good situation and Macduff against Malcolm. A quote to support this claim follows
? ...... Malcolm and Donalbain, the two kings sons,
Are stolen away and fled, which puts upon them,
suspicion of the deed? (Act 2, Scene 4, l 33 - 36)
A very important situation in the play, once Banquo is murdered by Macbeth is Macduff is beginning to turn his suspicion onto Macbeth. This suspicion causes problems for Macbeth because when Macduff and Malcolm do come together, they are a very strong, determined and motivated unit. This situation also contributes to the downfall of ?evil?. This is another aspect of a good versus evil story where evil makes it ?good versus good.?
Undoubtedly the most evil forces in this play are the weird sisters and Hecate, they are mischievous and cunning. The most important question about the witches is simply, ?why???. Their motives are not promoted in the play, they would help explain why the weird sisters start all this mayhem. Two quotes to support that the witches are motivated by entertainment and pleasure of seeing humans suffer are
?... was never called to bear my part,
or show the glory of our art?? (Act 3, Scene 5, l 8 - 9)
?O, well done! I ...