The Power of Evil in Macbeth

Table of Content

The play Macbeth depicts evil as a potent and ruinous force that inflicts harm upon both its adopters and their victims. Both the main character, Macbeth, and his wife Lady Macbeth are entangled in the clutches of this malevolence. Evil compels individuals to partake in unnatural and harmful deeds. Macbeth’s tragic flaw, his insatiable greed, drives him to yield to evil and disrupt the natural order. By willingly engaging in acts of murder, mass killing, falsehoods, and deceit, Macbeth suffers a decline in his physical and mental well-being. Evil contaminates everything it touches, with Macbeth freely becoming its servant. Nonetheless, as he embraces wickedness, it corrupts him ultimately leading to his downfall.

Lady Macbeth falls victim to Macbeth’s tragic flaw when she gives in to the temptation of power. Ultimately, her greed consumes her entirely. Her pivotal action of urging Macbeth towards murder, deceit, and self-destruction severely affects their mental and physical well-being. It becomes evident that guilt will forever haunt them as they spiral deeper into corruption and avarice. The harm inflicted upon others will inevitably lead to revenge haunting them while they sacrifice their sanity in pursuit of power.

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The consequences faced by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth demonstrate that succumbing to evil negates our own sense of order and well-being. Their embrace of evil leads them to commit unnatural acts that disturb their peace of mind. The guilt they feel haunts them and deteriorates their physical and mental health. Macbeth’s guilt causes him to behave strangely in front of his guests, deeply unsettling him. Even though his guilt is deeply ingrained, it only affects him when he experiences hallucinations, but as soon as they disappear, he seems to bounce back. This abnormal response to his actions is not typical, as it should continue to weigh heavily on him. Paralyzed by guilt on occasion, Macbeth mostly remains guilt-free, which encourages him to commit more murders. While his guilt does not ultimately destroy him, it plays a role in turning his own men against him, as it exposes his deeds to them. The lords become suspicious when they witness him conversing with his hallucinations and question him about what he sees. Unlike Lady Macbeth, who conceals her guilt more effectively, Macbeth freely admits his remorse to her and through his hallucinations, revealing his inner conflict.Macbeth expresses his guilt to Lady Macbeth for being unable to say “Amen” after returning from the king’s room. Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth does not display any guilt until her death, indicating that her intense guilt ultimately led to her demise.

Lady Macbeth’s guilt is evident in her sleepwalking as she replays the troubling events in her sleep. In one instance, she questions the whereabouts of the wife of the thane of Fife and laments the permanent stain on her hands. Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth tries to suppress her guilt, but it eventually overwhelms her and leads to her tragic end. Although she tries to hide it, there are moments where her guilt surfaces, such as her remorse before the murder of Duncan. These early signs indicate the gradual deterioration of her conscience.

She declares, “If he did not resemble my father as he slept, I would have done it” (II. ii. 16-17). Referring to Duncan, she keeps her guilt to herself, as she is alone on stage (soliloquy). Lady Macbeth’s overwhelming remorse looks for a way out, and finds it only in her sleep. Macbeth, on the other hand, channels his guilt through his hallucinations and his wife, sparing him from complete devastation but arousing suspicion among his allies. Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth disguises her weakness and conceals her guilt, which ultimately leads to her downfall.

In summary, the negative deeds committed by each character weigh heavily on their consciences and bring about various negative consequences. Macbeth’s acts of evil result in the destruction of his victims’ lives and their families, inevitably leading to his own downfall as a form of retribution. By killing Banquo, Macbeth inadvertently paves the way for Banquo’s descendants to become kings, as evident in Scottish history. Furthermore, Macbeth kills Duncan and falsely accuses Malcolm and Donalbain of the crime.

Clearly, Macbeth does not remain idle as he abuses what rightfully belongs to others. This prompts the rightful owners to embark on journeys to different countries in search of assistance. The son of Duncan, who should rightfully inherit the throne, resides in the English court where he is warmly received by the righteous Edward. This reception only adds to his already esteemed reputation, as even misfortune cannot diminish his respect. Consequently, they return with an English army that ultimately leads to Macbeth’s downfall. Moreover, Duncan’s assassination causes his loyal subjects to turn against Macbeth, and when the time of battle arrives, they abandon him.

Macbeth’s people and the opposing army both abandon him due to dissatisfaction with his leadership. Macbeth acknowledges that his own army was not willingly convinced to join the opposing side. He laments losing his honor, love, obedience, and troops of friends as a result of his wicked actions. In a fit of anger towards Macduff for fleeing, Macbeth kills Macduff’s entire family, making an enemy out of him. Malcolm returns from England with an army and allies with Macduff and most of the Scottish lords.

Macduff, driven by the desire for vengeance against Macbeth after the loss of his family, engages in a fierce battle that results in Macbeth’s successful demise. Consequently, Malcolm is proclaimed as the legitimate ruler of Scotland. The downfall of Macbeth can be attributed to his tyrannical reign and malevolent actions, ultimately serving as retribution for embracing wickedness. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth suffer psychological wounds from their deeds, yet they demonstrate their anguish in distinct manners. Macbeth has forfeited his sense of right and wrong and now relies on spontaneous visions as an avenue for any remaining shreds of morality.

Lady Macbeth has become emotionally hardened since participating in Duncan’s murder, and her way of expressing her worry now happens during her sleep. When Macbeth hears a voice crying out “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep”, he tells Lady Macbeth about it and she replies in confusion, asking what he means. He continues to talk about the voice, saying it cried out to the whole house that “Glamis hath murdered sleep” and that Macbeth shall sleep no more. This is the first sign of Macbeth’s guilty conscience manifesting itself through hallucinations. Lady Macbeth embraced evil earlier than Macbeth, as seen in her plea to be filled with cruelty upon receiving his letter. She wanted to be rid of her feminine qualities and become stronger. In this state, Lady Macbeth loses her fear and worry and becomes a protector for Macbeth when he loses his sanity.Macbeth’s madness visibly intensifies with each subsequent murder, with each becoming more irrational than the previous one. Specifically, Macbeth kills his closest friend, Banquo, as he has recently become convinced that Banquo is plotting against him. Our anxieties towards Banquo are deeply rooted, as his noble nature poses a threat to Macbeth’s reign.

Macbeth becomes paranoid and desperate to keep his crown, developing an irrational anger towards Banquo because of the prophecies of the three old hags. He rebuked the witches for naming him king and told them to speak to Banquo instead. Like a prophet, they hailed Banquo as the father of a line of kings. Macbeth feels betrayed as they placed a worthless crown on his head and gave him a barren scepter, causing him to discard his relationship with Banquo.

Macbeth’s morals and sanity are completely lost as his conscience becomes overwhelmed when he learns of the murder, leading to hallucinations. During Macbeth’s feast, he is overcome with fear upon encountering Banquo’s ghost, while Lady Macbeth attempts to reassure him. “O, proper stuff! / This is the very painting of your fear.” (III. iv. 73-74) Lady Macbeth maintains a composed exterior, but her internal conflict becomes evident later on. It is not until the climax of the play that we witness the extent of the emotional damage she has endured.

In act v, Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking reveals her vulnerability, surprising the doctor and gentlewoman who witness it. The doctor speculates about the cause of her sleepwalking, suggesting that troubling thoughts and guilty conscience are responsible. Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking episodes torment her with nightmares of her evil deeds.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have both embraced evil, which has corrupted their minds, causing them to confuse reality with their fears and fostering mistrust towards everything and everyone. Despite Lady Macbeth’s attempt to create a protective shell around herself, the evil actions still manage to penetrate her mind and disturb her. The embrace of evil has led to the deterioration of their mental well-being, something essential for survival amidst lies and deceit. Ultimately, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s commitment to evil proves to be their downfall, negatively impacting their physical and spiritual well-being. The guilt they accumulate affects them in different ways, ultimately leading to Lady Macbeth’s destruction.

Lady Macbeth commits suicide because she cannot handle the guilt of their actions. Macbeth loses his loyalty because of his guilt and his hallucinations. The harm Macbeth inflicts on the people of Scotland, King Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff’s family results in revenge against him, as following evil leads to enemies and destroyed friendships. His own people betray him, Duncan’s sons gather armies to destroy him, and Macduff seeks revenge by killing Macbeth. Their continuous evil actions disturb them despite their attempts to hide it, and eventually their sanity crumbles.

Macbeth starts experiencing auditory hallucinations and visualizing supernatural beings. While Lady Macbeth remains mentally stable, her unconscious mind is haunted by terrifying dreams and sleepwalking. The conscious decision to indulge in wickedness has detrimental effects on their mental, spiritual, and physical well-being. Their destructive actions progressively eat away at them, ultimately resulting in Macbeth’s demise as a consequence of seeking revenge, and Lady Macbeth’s suicide due to overwhelming guilt. Thus, accepting evil is synonymous with inviting one’s own downfall.

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The Power of Evil in Macbeth. (2018, May 15). Retrieved from

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