The Power of Evil in Macbeth Evil is a destructive force; it causes harm to those who embrace it and their victims. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the protagonist Macbeth and Lady Macbeth fall into the hands of evil. Evil is what drives people to commit unnatural actions of destruction. Macbeth succumbs to evil through his fatal flaw, greed, and it causes him to disrupt the chain of being. When Macbeth willingly murders, massacres, lies and deceives, he loses his heath and sanity.
Evil corrupts everything it touches, and Macbeth decides to be evil’s servant. But, when Macbeth embraces evil, it corrupts him, and it ultimately destroys him as well.
Lady Macbeth is a victim of Macbeth’s fatal flaw, since she is drawn in, and becomes greedy for power herself. She pushes Macbeth into destruction when she adds the small touch that plunges Macbeth into a chain of murder, destruction, and lying followed by the loss of their sanity and health.
After Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are well into the depths of corruption and greed, it is clearly seen that their guilt will haunt them for the rest of their lives. The harm they have caused others will be returned to them as revenge and they have lost their sanity in order to gain power.
The fate of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth clearly illustrates that to embrace evil is to negate our own need for order and well being. By embracing evil, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have committed unnatural actions that disturb them. Their guilt does not leave them in peace, and slowly degrades their health. Macbeth’s guilt causes him to act strangely in front of his guests, and it disturbs him deeply. Macbeth’s guilt is deeply mutilated, and it only affects him when he hallucinates “Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves / Shall never tremble” (III. iv. 24-125), and as soon as his visions disappear he feels better “Why so, being gone, / I am a man again. – Pray you sit still” (iii. iV. 130-131), not something normal considering the actions he has committed. His guilt paralyzes him when he does feel it, but most of the time he is guiltless, and that encourages him to commit more murder. Although his guilt does not ultimately destroy him, it is a factor that brings his own men against him, since through his guilt he reveals the actions he has committed. The lords grow suspicious as he speaks to his hallucinations, and they inquire on his onflict “What sights, my lord? “(III. iv. 142). Macbeth does not attempt to conceal his guilt as strongly as Lady Macbeth does, and this is what protects him from it. Macbeth releases his remorse by speaking to Lady Macbeth, and through his hallucinations. “I could not say ‘Amen’ / When they did say ‘God bless us’. ” (II. ii. 39-40) “But wherefore could not I pronounce ‘Amen’? “(II. ii. 42). Macbeth expresses his guilt to Lady Macbeth after he returns from the murdered king’s room. Lady Macbeth does not show guilt throughout the play until her death, which proves that her overwhelming guilt is what killed her.
As is seen by her sleepwalking, Lady Macbeth felt guilty of her actions and she replays the events that trouble her during her sleep. “The thane of Fife had a wife. Where is / she now? What, will these hands ne’er be clean? ” (V. i. 44-45). Lady Macbeth bottles her guilt throughout the play, and its overflow is what drives her to commit suicide. There are glimpses of Lady Macbeth’s guilt, although she attempts to conceal it. Just before Duncan’s murder is committed, Lady Macbeth shows remorse, and thus proves that the degradation of her conscience begins early in the play.
She exclaims: “Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done ‘t. ” (II. ii. 16-17). She speaks of Duncan, minutes before his dreaded murder, but does not reveal her guilt to anyone, since she is alone on stage (soliloquy). Lady Macbeth’s overflowing compunction seeks for escape, and the only exit it finds is her sleep. Since Macbeth provides an outlet for his guilt through his hallucinations and his wife, it does not consume him, but it does bring suspicion into his allies. Lady Macbeth pretends to be strong and hides her guilt, which ultimately destroys her.
In conclusion, the evil actions that each has caused burdens them with guilt, that harm them in distinct ways. Macbeth’s evil actions destroy his victim’s lives, and their family’s, and because of this, it was bound to happen that someone destroyed Macbeth in revenge. Thus, it is serving evil that ultimately ends Macbeth’s being. Macbeth kills Banquo and even if there is no direct reply from Banquo’s sons or family, it is known in Scottish history that they become kings. Macbeth murders Duncan, and sets the blame of his action on Malcolm and Donalbain.
Obviously, they do not sit still Macbeth abuses what is rightfully theirs, and they set off to different countries to seek for help. The son of Duncan (from whom this tyrant holds the due of birth) Lives in the English court and received Of the most pious Edward with such grace That the malevolence of fortune nothing Takes from his high respect. (III. vi. 28-33) Then they return with an English army, which ultimately brings Macbeth’s destruction. Duncan’s murder also turns his lords against him, and when the time of the battle comes, they desert him.
His people, obviously not content with his rule also desert him, and when the opposing army arrives at Dunsinane hill, Macbeth’s army leaves. “Where they not forced with those that should be ours,”(V. v. 5). Macbeth has lost “honor, love, obedience, troops of friends” (V. iii. 29), because of his evil deeds, and this is what physically ends Macbeth. Feeling anger towards Macduff for having fled, Macbeth murders his whole family, and makes Macduff a powerful enemy. When Malcolm returns from England with an army, Macduff is there, as are most of the Lords of Scotland.
But Macduff searches for Macbeth with the sole purpose of avenging his family. They fight and Macduff is victorious, he slays Macbeth, and proclaims Malcolm the rightful king of Scotland. As a result of his abuse on his people and his evil actions Macbeth’s reign is brought to an end. For having followed evil, Macbeth is killed… Everything Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have done has scarred them mentally, and they each show it differently. Macbeth has lost all moral values, and because of that, the only way his morals are expressed are through his spontaneous visions.
Lady Macbeth has lost her capability to express concern, or worry, since she hardened herself to get through Duncan’s murder, and her outlet is during her sleep. We witness Macbeth’s first illusion as soon as he commits the murder, and he tells Lady Macbeth, Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep’- the innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care, The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher of life in feast. (II. ii. 47-52) And after she replies confounded, “what do you mean? “(II. ii. 3) he goes on about this voice, “Still it cried ‘Sleep no more! ‘ to all the house. / ‘Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor / Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more’. “(II. ii. 54-56). This is the first proof of Macbeth’s resurgent conscience, that expresses itself through hallucinations. Macbeth knows that this deed will bother him forever. Lady Macbeth embraces evil earlier than Macbeth, as soon as she receives his letter in act I, when Macbeth returns from battle. “Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / of direst cruelty” (I. . 47-49) This does not help in maintaining her well being, since she implores to be unsexed, to lose her womanly qualities, and become something stronger. Here Lady Macbeth loses fear and worry, and she becomes Macbeth’s guardian, protecting him when he loses his mind. Macbeth’s insanity seems to increase after every murder he commits, each becoming more senseless than the murder before. Macbeth murders his best friend, Banquo, because he has suddenly developed the idea that Banquo is conspiring against him. Our fears in Banquo Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be feared. ‘Tis much he Dares, (III. i. 53-56) Macbeth becomes paranoid and is desperate to keep his crown. He develops an anger towards Banquo without logical fundament, relying in the prophecies of three old hags. 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 scepter in my grip,” (III. i. 62-67) Macbeth throws away his relationship with Banquo based on the prophecies of three witches.
His morals are gone, and with them his sanity. But, when Macbeth hears news that the murder is committed, his conscience cannot bear it, and he hallucinates. Banquo’s ghost makes an appearance at Macbeth’s feast. Macbeth freezes in fear when he faces the ghost, and Lady Macbeth tries to pull him together. “O, proper stuff! / This is the very painting of your fear. ” (III. iv. 73-74) Lady Macbeth outwardly keeps her cool, but we later see that she is in deep conflict inside. Lady Macbeth’s mental state is not seen until the climax of the play, where we witness the emotional damage that she has undergone.
In act v Lady Macbeth sleepwalks, and we see that she is not made of stone after all. This is witnessed by a doctor and a gentlewoman, who do not take it lightly. The doctor guesses the meaning of Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking. “Foul whisp’rings are abroad. Unnatural deeds / Do breed unnatural troubles. Infected minds / To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. ” (V. ii. 75-77). Lady Macbeth is suffering for having committed evil, she relives her actions in her sleep, and they turn into sleepwalking nightmares.
Macbeth has embraced evil, and it has corrupted his mind, confusing reality with his fears and creating mistrust towards everything and everyone. Lady Macbeth creates a protective shell around herself, but all the evil actions still penetrate, and they disturb her mind. As a result of embracing evil Lady Macbeth and Macbeth lose their mental well being, something indispensable to survive through lies and deceit. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s commitment for evil was their downfall, and it hindered the well being of their bodies and souls. The guilt they accumulate harms them differently, and it becomes Lady Macbeth’s destruction.
Lady Macbeth takes her own life since she cannot bear the guilt of their actions. Macbeth loses his loyalties due to his guilt and his hallucinations. The harm that Macbeth causes on the people of Scotland, King Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff’s family bring revenge upon him, because following evil creates enemies and destroys friendships. His own people betray him, Duncan’s sons gather armies for his destruction, and Macduff avenges his family by killing Macbeth. Their consecutive evil actions disturbed them although they hid it, and ultimately their sanity falters.
Macbeth begins hearing things and seeing apparitions and ghosts. Lady Macbeth’s conscious mind has not been disturbed, but her unconscious carries the burden of their evil, suffering from nightmares and sleepwalking. By embracing evil, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have denied their own mental, spiritual, and physical health. Their actions corrode them further and further, and because of embracing evil, Macbeth is killed through revenge and Lady Macbeth suicides because she could not bear her guilt. Hence, to embrace evil is to embrace your own destruction.
Cite this The Power of Evil in Macbeth
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