What are some characteristics of good and evil throughout the play "Macbeth"?

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malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are probably far more examples of evil than there are of good in this play.  Macbeth himself is an example of someone who is easily led into evil by the prophecies of the witches and by the pushing of his wife, Lady Macbeth.  The witches themselves are classic examples of evil and all that is bad about meddling in dark magic.  Lady Macbeth is absolutely horrific in her ambition and willingness to push her husband into grievous sin for the sake of the throne:

Lady Macbeth: Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead
Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal;
For it must seem their guilt. (2.2)

She yells at her husband for bringing back the daggers he used to kill Duncan, then says how she'll go in herself and put the daggers with the men who were supposed to be guarding Duncan, smearing their faces with his blood to show their guilt.  That's definitely an evil person!

I think Malcolm, Duncan's son and heir, is an example of good in that he wants to raise an army in England to go back and overthrow Macbeth for the good of Scotland.  Macduff makes up for his weakness in leaving his family by slaying Macbeth and avenging their deaths, but I have a hard time considering him to be good when he left his wife and children in the first place.