Macbeth: good vs. evil

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Ruined by the Evil, Destroyed by the Good

William Shakespeare's great tragedy, Macbeth, portrays how one man can destroy his entire life by giving into the temptations of evil. The main character, Macbeth, conscientiously makes decisions that continuously push him towards evil, until he is finally engulfed by it. By the end of the play, Macbeth has totally succumbed to doing evil, and although he knows it, he makes no efforts to stop. The atmosphere of the play has a feeling of darkness and despare; however, it also presents souls of good nature. This can be seen in the good natured hart of King Duncan, who falls victim to another's evil doing. It can also be seen in the valiant efforts of Macduff and Malcolm when they finally end the life of the hapless tyrant. Macbeth is the story of the rise of evil and the near demise of everything that represents goodness.

The setting and atmosphere in Macbeth gives off an aura of evil and death. It also enters the world of supernatural evil. As author Harold Goddard states in his book The Meaning of Shakespeare, "Macbeth is Shakespeare's descent into Hell (498 Goddard). This is evident in the presence of the three witches as well as the queen of the witches, Hecate. Evil is also depicted in eerie or unnatural acts of nature. As one old man recalls in the play

˜Tis unnatural,

Even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last

A falcon towering in her pride of place

Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed. (2.4.11-14)

The thought of an owl hunting down and killing a falcon presents a feeling that something has gone wrong with nature. It could also be used as a metaphore for

Macbeth's murder of Duncan. During Shakespeare's time it was believed that the king was selected by God, and that the wrongful killing of the king would separate heaven from earth

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