Macbeth Contrast between light and dark as symbols for life and death

Essay by thinkv2High School, 12th gradeA, February 2004

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The opposition of light and dark as symbols for life and death is the foundation upon which much of Shakespeare's Macbeth is built. Darkness in our society is indicative of many symbols of evil. For instance, a black cat, dark night, and dark place are all ominous symbols. Light, as it is used in Macbeth, often seems to be indicative of truth or life. The contrast between light and dark in Macbeth can best be seen through the dialogue of the characters and the ambiance of scenes in the play.

The characters in Macbeth make several references to light and darkness throughout the play. For example in Act 1 Macbeth says, "Stars, hide your fires; let not see my black and deep desires..." (Bevington pgs.632-633). Macbeth does not want the light, or his goodness, to see that he wants to murder King Duncan in order to receive the crown. Later on in that same act, Lady Macbeth cries out, "Come, thick night, and pall the in the dunnest smoke of hell, that my keen knife see not the wound it makes, nor the heaven peep through the blanket of the dark" (Bevington pg.

635). Lady Macbeth does not want anyone to see what she will do, and she also does not want to see it herself. The darkness, or evil, will cover her deed, and the light, or goodness, will not see it. These statements by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth illustrate the contrasting views between light and darkness. Both characters want the darkness of their evil to be hidden from the goodness and truth of the light. The distinction between light and darkness is further developed as the play progresses. For instance, in Act 4 Malcolm declares, "Angels are bright still, thought the brightest star fell" (Bevington pg. 686). He...