Evil in Macbeth: Good vs. Evil, several sources

Essay by yankee842 April 2004

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Evil In Macbeth

Our own human nature is the root of all evil. Macbeth is the only play where the main character becomes an evil monster.

In no other Shakespearean tragedy does the hero have so firm and correct grasp of self-knowledge, nor a well developed concept of the universe and his place in it. In Macbeth, the character of Macbeth has a perfect ability for moral judgment. He willfully disregards his own moral thoughts and institutions. According to Bernard McElroy, "more than any other Shakespearean hero, he [Macbeth] has a perfectly clear concept of who he is and where he stands --- and it is exactly this perception that torments and spiritually destroys him"(330). Macbeth is strongly impelled to evil but he also abhors evil. It is this that causes Macbeth to abhor himself. The play explores the tensions between Macbeth's proneness to evil and his abhorrence to evil.

Macbeth is a tragic hero because he becomes caught in tensions between his criminal actions and the reaction of his conscience. Had Macbeth committed the deeds without any remorse, he would have been simply an evil monster, without any hope. !

But it is his conscience about evil that makes him tragic. Through Macbeth's actions, Shakespeare is able to depict the nature of evil as being: lusftul, deceptive, tyrannical, and disruptive to family.

To begin, Macbeth himself stands as a symbol for Satan's sin of ambition. Like Satan, Macbeth's insatiable lust for power and ambition drives him to commit evil. Although Macbeth's ambitiousness is not in itself evil: "His very strong social sense, worldly but valuable, together with that gift of imaginative expression whereby he far outshines all the others, makes him naturally and rightly desirous of winning `Golden Opinions from all sorts...