Darkness in Macbeth Essay

This essay has a total of 1190 words and 5 pages.

Darkness in Macbeth




In all of his plays, Shakespeare uses an assortment of motifs and symbols that bear vivid
imagery, almost bringing them to life, just like a character. In the tragedy Macbeth,
Shakespeare does an excellent job in using the element darkness, and words associated to
it, to create a type of “force” that has an impact on the characters and the play itself.
When we think of the dark, what immediately comes to our minds are feelings of evilness,
wickedness, and negativity. Darkness is a tool that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth use to lead
them both to execute deadly, murderous acts. At first darkness is simply portrayed as a
blanket to cover up a bad deed when needed. As the play progresses, darkness evolves into
a personality (creature) that plagues Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. This evolution is evident
in the deeds of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the course of the play.

The plot directly affecting Macbeth starts off when he meets the Three Witches who tell
him a prophecy that piques his mind. They tell him that he will soon be the King of
Scotland: “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (I.iii.49). This scene takes
place in darkness, and it is the first time we see darkness as being natural. There is
thunder, and therefore there are gray clouds and it is dark. With the combination of the
witches (known to society as being evil) and the darkness, we get the notion that there
is something vile going on. Banquo, at one point in the play, defines the witches as
being “the instruments of darkness” (I.iii.123). The witches’ prophecies lead him to
consider the role and the privilege of being king which he would have never considered
before. Apparently darkness, even at its initial, natural appearance, brought evil.

The next appearance of darkness is used as a “blanket,” a hider of bad deeds. Macbeth
says to himself, “Stars, hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires”
(I.iv.51-52). In other words, he is asking for darkness to hide his evil desires. Just
before Macbeth’s quote, Duncan names his successor, and it is not Macbeth. Duncan names
his son Malcolm. After previous pondering, Macbeth realizes then that he must do
something himself in order for the prophecy to come true. He decides to become king
through foul play. He instantaneously calls upon darkness to be a blanket to hide his
dark, evil desires so that he can preserve his benign outlook. It is noticeable that he
went straight to calling darkness instead of dealing with “the instruments of darkness,”
the three witches. This is an indication of him taking matters into his own hands;
perhaps the beginning of his abusing of the power of darkness.

Alongside to Macbeth, Lady Macbeth also asks darkness to hide her evil deeds. After she
reads Macbeth’s letter, she too gets the whim of being queen and enjoying all the benefits
that will come with it. In her speech (I.v.36-52), she seems very determined to achieve
the goal of Macbeth’s crowning. She asks the spirits to “unsex” her, “make thick my
blood” as to stop its access to remorse, and, generally, to give her the strength to do
the evil deed. She too calls upon darkness to play a role in hiding the deadly act, or
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