Is Macbeth a profound vision of evil?  this is for my english essay

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since you did not put Macbeth in quotation marks, I assume you are asking about the character and not the play.  Your question begs the other side of that equation which asks if Macbeth is merely a pawn in the witches' game of evil.  Macbeth kills Duncan because of his own ambition primarily.  He wants to be king and when the witches' prophesy of being named Thane of Cawdor comes true in Act 1, sc. 3, Macbeth's thoughts immediately turn to the next prophesy - that of being king.  He says that his thoughts and desires scare him because he realizes that to become king, he will probably have to kill Duncan.  The idea of being king obviously has been lingering near the surface of his dreams.  Macbeth's wife spurs on the reluctant Macbeth when in Act 1, sc. 7, Macbeth fears what will happen to him if he kills Duncan and suggests to Lady Macbeth that they should not do anything to Duncan.  She attacks Macbeth's masculinity and he caves into her desires to go through with the murder.  Does this make Macbeth evil or simply a weak, ambitious man?  Later, Macbeth has his friend, Banquo, killed because Macbeth has become paranoid.  He fears that Banquo is on to him and may tell others that Macbeth was behind the murdering of Duncan.  Still later, because the witches' visions tell Macbeth to beware of Macduff and because Macbeth knows that Macduff is not on his side, Macbeth has Macduff's family murdered since Macduff himself is in England.  Finally, in Act 5, we see the depths to which Macbeth has fallen when he laments his wife's death by saying he wished he had time to mourn and when he continues to hold up the witches' prophesies like shields in front of himself even as he sees the lie in each of the prophesies.  He is nearly insane with guilt and paranoia by the time Macduff kills Macbeth at the end of Act 5. On the other hand, if your question is whether or not the play is a profound vision of evil, then I suggest you look at the witches, particularly Hecate and what she says in Act 3, sc. 5, when she chastises the other witches for not doing enough to mess with Macbeth.  She suggests that Macbeth is an easy mark because of his ambition and his false sense of security.  So, the witches are pure evil and they manipulate Macbeth to perform evil, but could they manipulate him if he didn't have the predilection toward evil?

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

So your question now is whether the play is a vision of evil? The answer has to be no, though certainly there is evil in it. Like so many of Shakespeare's writings, Macbeth is a depiction of human nature. That, of course, means there will be some evil. It also means there is good, such as Macduff who is willing to die (and let his family die) to save his country and Banquo who is a loyal friend despite Macbeth's betrayal of that friendship. King Duncan is a good man and a good king, as is Malcolm. While evil is clearly part of the human experience, this play is not simply a vision of evil.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you are considering the whole play, it does make representation of evil forces, in the form of the witches and Hecate herself, and does stress the huge impact that following evil can have upon a society. However, as those who choose the path of evil - most notably Macbeth and Lady Macbeth  - both suffer torment until they are finally punished with death we cannot say that the play is a vision of evil, though it presents us with an example of the effect of evil.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth, the man, is a tragic hero. Yes he does heroic things, but he has a tragic flaw that leads to his downfall. He and Lady Macbeth believe the prophesy that he would become king, and yet they did not have the inclination to wait for events to transpire naturally. This was his tragic flaw. One might wonder, however, if the tragic flaw was really his relationship with Lady Macbeth, as she is the one who initiated the actions.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth is a hero-villain.  As such, he engages in heroic deeds such as defeating Macdonwald, the Norweigan army, and the Thane of Cawdor; yet, he also dallies with the preternatural world and is responsible in his "vaulting ambition" for the deaths of King Duncan, two of his servants, and Banquo and his son.  Thus, there is both worthiness and evil in Macbeth.

bleble-12 | Student

thank you this really helped me:) could i say the same thing if i was  talking about the play ''macbeth''  as a whole?