In the context, language and structure, how effectively is contrast portrayed in Macbeth?

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kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth is a play constructed with contrast at its core. In terms of context, we have ‘Brave Macbeth’ who is celebrated by his king for his defense of the realm, and yet who has been told by the witches that he will become king himself. Macbeth is celebrated in battle when he protects his monarch, having “unseamed” his enemy-

from the nave to the chops

He is later called a “tyrant” for his violent and blood thirsty deeds in protection of his own position on the throne.

In Act I scene iii, Macbeth asks for his inner thoughts to be kept from others: he will reject honesty from this point on-

Stars, hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires.

The language of the play reveals contrast from the opening scene. The witches speak in rhyme, which suggests order, and yet their incantations bring about disorder on a grand scale-

When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

When the hurlyburly's done;
When the battle's lost and won.

Even King Duncan speaks in contrasts as he rewards Macbeth with the title of the treacherous Thane of Cawdor

What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.

Macbeth himself speaks in contrast,as his opening lines in Act I scene iii attest-

So foul and fair a day I have not seen.

In terms of structure, we see the rise and fall of Macbeth from living hero to dead dictator.

We'll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
Painted upon a pole, and underwrit,
“Here may you see the tyrant.”