Essay on Darkness
The play Macbeth by William Shakespeare is a tragedy in which great imagery and themes bring real life qualities to his characters. Particularly the theme of darkness, develops by vivid imagery, characterizes Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. To set the atmosphere of darkness, the characters convey it through their actions. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are not evil to begin with, but there lies a potential for evil within them. The potential sets free by the series of murders committed by the duo. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth curse themselves when they call upon darkness to cover their appalling deeds, which then leads to an inner darkness.
Macbeth's first encounter in Act 1 with the witches releases the darkness within him. The witches in their evil way prompt Macbeth's ambition to be king. Banquo calls the weird sisters "instruments of darkness," (Act 1, Scene 4, Line 124) but Macbeth still decides to take their advice. They plant the thought in him that he could be king if Duncan dies. The imagery conveyed during the witches scenes is darkness. In Act 1, Scene 3, Act 3, Scene 4, and in Act 4, Scene 1 it is thundering. The thunder stirs up the evil released.
Like the witches, Lady Macbeth also has a role in releasing the dark ambitions of Macbeth as well. Macbeth is very reluctant to react on his instincts to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth is able to ease Macbeth's nerves, and convinces Macbeth that it is in his best interests to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth, full of ambition for her husband, knows darkness must cover their crimes. She calls upon the night as an aid. "Come, thick night, and pall thee dunnest smoke of hell/ nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark." (Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 50-53) At several times in the play Macbeth invokes the night as well, a universal symbol of evil. Macbeth says, "Let not light see my black and deep desires."(Act 1 Scene 4, Lines 51) Once the potential for darkness of Macbeth releases, he depends on it to help him with his deeds. The night of the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth calls on the night to hide his evil doings. Shakespeare emphasizes this when he sets the mood through a comment made by Banquo. "...There's husbandry in heaven, / their candles are all out..." (Act II, Scene 1, Lines 6-7) The dark night in other words, reflects the dark desires of Macbeth.
Macbeth desires to be king. After Macbeth succeeds the first time, by going against his conscience, Macbeth is confident in killing others now. He turns his nature of being dark. Macbeth, known as a tyrant during his reign on the throne, becomes numb to all emotion. Macbeth losses all respect for the lives of his people. He becomes selfish at the expense of his own people. Killing is no longer a moral issue with Macbeth. He impulsively kills Banquo and Macduff's family with no remorse. Macbeth is out of control; darkness has taken over his soul.
This potential of darkness in which Macbeth and his wife inflict upon themselves embodies their persona. Macbeth only realizes the consequences of his actions when it is too late. He feels lonely to a point where he views dying as an escape from his friendless and joyless life. Similar to Lady Macbeth who chooses death as an escape from her guilt of the murders committed that haunted her as she slept. She ends up committing suicide most likely because she could not handle the torment of her conscience any longer. The darkness that takes form in both of these characters naturally leads to their internal destructions. The Elizabethan's "Natural Order of Things" serves as justice at the end of the play diminishing the presence of all forms of evil from the throne and restoring the rightful heir.
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