ï»¿Shakespearean literature is often characterized by imagery. William Shakespeare uses this technique in order to give hidden deeper meanings to his pieces, as we can see in the play Macbeth. As a matter of fact, in this tragedy the audience can find many different types of imagery: plant, animal, sleep, clothing and so forth. Most of these images are associated with a human characteristic; the imagery of light and darkness is no exception. The symbols of light and darkness in Macbeth are used to illustrate the contrasts between good and evil, to explain the actions of the protagonists, and are associated with sight and blindness to emphasize drama.
Being two contrasting elements, the characteristics associated with light and darkness are also opposite; light is related to innocence, truth and purity, while darkness is associated with corruption, cruelty and guilt. In Macbeth, there are many different references to these two elements, and each one is connected to certain symbols which take the form of animals, plants, day, and night. Ultimately, light and darkness represent good and evil. In the first scenes of Act I, the imagery of light is used when King Duncan names Malcolm as his successor and commends Macbeth for his bravery in battle by comparing them to stars, " signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine On all deservers " (1.4.41-12). Duncan explains that he will award those who are virtuous and dutiful to him, because they deserve it. Because of these good qualities, namely honour and devotion, the person will shine like a star, since light is seen as good. Macbeth, however, already begins to ignore these values, " Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires ; "( 1.4.50-52) In this case, light represents goodness and honesty. Macbeth does not want his morals to interfere with his inner ambitions. His conscience warns him not to commit the regicide, but Macbeth's ambition and Lady Macbeth's power of persuasion are strong, and they defeat his morality.