Evil and Gender Archtypes in Macbeth

Essay by Anonymous UserA+, March 1996

download word file, 3 pages 4.2

Downloaded 44 times

Evil and Gender Archtypes in Macbeth

At the heart of William Shakespeare's Macbeth is an examination

of the nature of evil and it's many faces and facets. The principal evil characters in the

play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, are both evil, but the manifestation of evil is different

in each.

Macbeth's evil is a dynamic character trait. He begins the play as a celebrated

hero, loyal to his friends and dedicated to his king. He is strong and noble, a man to be

admired by his audience. Then he and Banquo are visited by the three witches, who

promise him that he will be king. This veiled initmation ignites a secret ambition within

Macbeth. Evil has dawned within him, but at this early stage of his transformation

Macbeth is ashamed of his evil urges. He says, 'Stars, hide your fires;/ Let not light see

my black and deep desires;/ The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,/ Which the eye

fears, when it is done, to see.'

(I, iv, 50) Soon, however, Macbeth is overcome by his

ambition and his fall begins. He says, 'I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but

only/ Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself/ and falls on the other.' (I, vii, 25) As

soon as the descision to murder Duncan is made, and until his death, Macbeth is a vessel

relentlessly filling with evil. Macbeth is the source of all the dastardly deeds in this play.

The witches ignite his evil ambition, Lady Macbeth stokes the fire, but the blame for

Duncan's murder rests squarely on the shoulders of Macbeth. Macbeth may not have

held the knives that killed Banquo or Macduff's family, but the agression is his.

Lady Macbeth does not descend into evil. She wallows in it.