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Dark Versus Light in Macbeth Essay


Dark versus light is apparent throughout Shakespeares Macbeth. Macbeths evil darkness intensifies as his light and goodness diminish. The witches are the root of evil, and as Macbeth interacts with them, his journey into the darkness begins. If this evil had never perished, the world would be utter chaos. Lady Macbeths darkness cannot completely over take her life because within Lady Macbeth a glimmer of light must always be evident. Therefore dark and evil must dissipate in order for the world to continue staying in balance in Macbeth. There will always be some sort of evil lurking in the shadows. The greed and sins that dwell within everyone would grow until the world would fall into disarray and complete turmoil; evil must vanish itself to create order. In Macbeth, the darkness in the hearts of the characters either disappear or the characters realize what the darkness had done to them.

When the images of witches are brought up in any piece of literature, they are usually associated with darkness and/or evil. This is also the case in Macbeth. Shakespeare uses many techniques to enforce this stereotype of witches. He uses pathetic fallacy to convey the dark surroundings as they Hover through the fog and filthy air

(1 . 1 . 12). The setting in this scene and voices of the witches strengthen the impact of the wickedness of the witches. Pathetic fallacy is shown again from Hecate when she states, Hark! I am calld; my little spirit, see, sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me,

(3 . 5 . 34-35) which also has a great imagery as the reader easily imagines the fog (thus creating an evil and dark setting for the witches once again). As the witches are taking these orders form Hecate, Macbeth charges in and exclaims, How now, you secret black and midnight hags! (4 . 1 . 48), thus revealing the malevolence and malice of the witches. His harsh words provide amazing imagery and by not giving away too much description of the witches, the reader can imagine them in their own creative and dark approach. The witches are the type of evil that can sustain itself throughout the world and cannot be disbanded, therefore allowing them to infect the darkness and evil into other people such as Macbeth or Lady Macbeth.

Macbeth gradually delves into darkness until he is consumed by its evil and corruption but starts out as a bright and shining warrior. Without even appearing in the play, in the first scene, his image is seen as a valiant and spectacular warrior: defeater of the ruthless Macdonwald. The Sergeant that witnessed Macbeths victory brings imagery of light to the reader as he states, As whence the sun gins his reflection, (1 . 2 . 25). The Sergeant has created an image of a fearless and immaculate warrior. Later on in the play, Macbeth begins to feel the darkness and evil stir inside of him and his golden persona slipping away as he says, Stars hide your fires! Let not light see my black desires.

(1 . 4 . 50-51) This contrast of imagery with light and dark clearly reveals Macbeths persona and foreshadows Macbeths journey into darkness. The beginning of this journey starts with Macbeth committing regicide, throwing the castle into chaos. Macbeths murderous deed has created all this pandemonium and darkness, and Ross describes this chaotic environment as a, dark night strangling the traveling lamp (2 . 4 . 7-8). Rosss words are used to illustrate the disorder of the castle and also (for the reader) Macbeths growing darkness. Macbeth becomes so deep within the evil and darkness of himself, that not only till the last minutes of his life is he able to see his own evil has destroyed everything he cares about most, The way to a dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Lifes but a walking shadow, a poor player. (5 . 5 . 23-24) Realizing he is now swallowed in the darkness with no way out, Macbeth accepts his death. This revelation Macbeth has proves his worth as a man, and as he denounces his darkness his image of a glorified warrior is restored (as is the balance between good and evil).

Lady Macbeths darkness cannot swallow her like it did to Macbeth, because there will always be a metaphorical and physical candle that provides light in her life. The moment Lady Macbeth is introduced she reveals her darkness, Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, (1 . 5 . 49-50). Lady Macbeth also sounds a lot like her husband when she exclaims, Now heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, (1 . 5 . 52). Lady Macbeths evil seems to be never ending until she says, Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had donet, (2 . 2 . 13-14) showing her weakness and goodness that holds her back from committing a misdeed. The readers now understand she has a light, a goodness and a weakness that is fixed inside her and will never disappear. Later in the play, Lady Macbeth is sleep walking and the Doctor brings to attention that Lady Macbeth has a candle in her hand and the Nurse replies, Why, it stood by her: she has light by her continually; tis her command. (5 . 1 . 22-23) Lady Macbeth cannot be left alone with her with her own evil thought in the darkness unless she has somebody with her or a light to shine on all the darkness. The candle is representing the light in Lady Macbeth that cannot be put out.

Dark and evil cannot sustain itself in the natural order of the world or the world will crumble with corruption. There will always be a balance of good and evil which cannot be broken. The witches have not disbanded even though they are evil because its impossible to get rid of everything that is evil in the world. Lady Macbeths light saves her from murdering the king. Macbeth realizes the darkness that has overwhelmed him and declares his death as an empty ending. When Macbeth realizes this, one can see that evil can dissipate itself out of the most sinful people, and there is always a glimmer of light within the darkest of hearts.

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