Essay by madeinrussia20 March 2006

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"Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (I.i.10). This becomes

the key phrase in describing Macbeth's downfall. It

defines the night vs. day motif, foreshadowing the evil

that will soon come. The night vs. day motif is so

important in bringing out the theme of evil in this play

because almost all of the elements of Macbeth's downfall

are revealed at night. Sleeplessness, murder, and the

witches' prophecies all become relevant as the drama


When the witches tell Macbeth that he will soon be

the Thane of Cawdor, his ambition blossoms. Before long

he realizes that he has to get Duncan out of his way.

He then starts something he is not mentally ready to

start when he kills Duncan. The first glimpse of evil

comes that night. After he has done his deed, the

paranoia sets in. "But wherefore could not I pronounce

'Amen'?" (II.ii.31).

Macbeth realizes that the

"goodness" is starting to drift away. He looks at his

hands and sees his guilt, the blood.

The next example of evil at night is when the

sleeplessness sets in and Macbeth's guilt starts to get

the best of him. He slowly starts going mad because of

his guilt and begins to worry. Macbeth tries to snap

out of it and act normal so that nobody will suspect

anything, but he gets worse. "Methought I heard a voice

cry, 'Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep'"

(II.ii.35-36). Macbeth's sleeplessness means the more

sleep he loses, the more he is exposed to night, which

is evil.

The witches play a key role in turning Macbeth into

the paranoid, dangerous person that he his. They

basically ignite the tragedy as well as Macbeth's fate

when they tell him he will be Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth

was not aware of the problems that the prophecy would

soon create, nor was he aware that it would bring him to

his end.