Discuss the conflict between good and evil in Macbeth.

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On one level, the struggle between good and evil in Macbeth is a simple one. Macbeth, responsible for so much evil in the play, is destroyed by the good Macduff, allowing Malcolm, revealed as a sympathetic character, to rise to the throne of Scotland. So in the end, one might say, good prevails. But the real struggle between good and evil in this play is an internal one within Macbeth himself. Portrayed as a decent, honest, valiant nobleman at the beginning of the play, Macbeth becomes twisted beyond recognition by ambition. He commits, or conspires to commit, one murder after another to satisfy this ambition, driven early on by his wife, who is portrayed as a woman made thoroughly evil by ambition. So in this way, one might argue, evil wins. It destroys Macbeth and his wife as well as Macbeth's ties with his cousin Malcolm and friend Banquo.

The role of Hecate and the witches, or the "weird sisters" is also important here. We are left to debate whether Macbeth pursued his evil course of action out of free will, or whether the witches were able to exercise their malevolent influence on him, and events more generally, to cause chaos in Scotland. In any case, if there is a "good" force to battle the forces (if, perhaps, only the potential forces) of evil that the witches represent, we do not know about it in the play. Macbeth's conscience seems weak indeed in the face of the temptations their prophecies place in front of him.