"Macbeth" by Shakepeare - "Macbeth vs. Lady Macbeth: Devil vs. Demon"

Essay by tofufauxHigh School, 11th gradeA, April 2006

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A huge debate can be waged over who is the evilest character in William Shakespeare's Macbeth. This argument can be narrowed down into a competition between two key characters: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. In the first few acts of the play, the calculating Lady Macbeth may be seen as the evilest character but later, it becomes apparent that behind his hero veneer, the title character Macbeth is truly the devil character in Shakespeare's play.

Prior to King Duncan's murder, the Macbeth's seem like a normal, good-natured couple. However, everything changes once the witches announce to Macbeth that he "shalt be king hereafter." (1.3.52) From then on, Macbeth's character takes a downward spiral into evilness, partly due to a gentle push from his ambitious wife. While Macbeth is reluctant at first to kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth finally convinces him to do it. She takes complete control over the planning of King Duncan's murder and tells Macbeth to "put this night's great business into my dispatch."

(1.5.75-76) Later that night, the death of the King takes place. After Macbeth has completed the deed, he is overwrought with guilt and hears voices saying, "Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep." (2.2.46-47) In contrast, Lady Macbeth is almost indifferent to the death of Scotland's ruler and shows her unaffected conscience by uttering "a little water clears us of this deed." (2.2.83) So with their first murder, Shakespeare paints a picture of the differing personalities of the Macbeths.

After Macbeth's first taste of homicide, his behavior changes. He suffers from insomnia and guilt, which later leads to his erratic actions. Shortly following Macbeth becoming the new King of Scotland, he remembers the witches' prophecies made about Banquo that said, "thou shalt get kings, though thou be none." (1.3.69) So, to protect his throne,