Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, is a classic tragedy involving the uprising, and eventual downfall, of two seemingly evil people, Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth. It is unusual to find a character in drama who is entirely evil. Throughout Macbeth, both Macbeth and his wife commit vile, evil actions. However, because they know that their actions were wrong, they show that they have a conscience, and so cannot be correctly described as 'wholly evil'.
It is true to say that many of Macbeth's actions are evil. His list of crimes is extensive. He kills King Duncan, one of his relatives, hires men to kill his best friend, Banquo, has men kill Macduff's wife and children, plants spies in the homes of the nobles, and spreads lies about Malcolm, the rightful heir to the throne. Once Macbeth obtains the crown, he rules by terror and deception, since he does not have anybody's loyalty.
In describing the state Scotland has fallen into under Macbeth's rule, Macduff states, "Each new morn / New windows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows / Strike heaven on the face..." (Act IV, Scene iii, Lines 4-6). Under Macbeth's rule, Scotland is in utter chaos, and his actions have dire effects on the country.
Almost all of Macbeth's crimes are necessary for him to retain the rule over Scotland. Apart from murdering King Duncan, all of Macbeth's other crimes are perpetrated so that nobody knows of his murder of King Duncan, and also so that nobody can remove the crown from him. Whilst stereotypical villains commit crimes because they enjoy it, or because of their lifestyle, Macbeth does so seemingly out of necessity. He does so as part of his ever-diminishing struggle to retain the crown. This suggests to us that Macbeth is not wholly...