ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

Macbeth Themes - Good And Evil In Macbeth

Updated on August 19, 2014

The theme of good versus evil is at the heart of Macbeth.

The witches set the tone at the very beginning: fair is foul and foul is fair. Good and evil exist side by side, and it can be difficult to tell which is which. The fair face may hide the foul heart. As Duncan says of the first Thane of Cawdor: ‘There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.’ This is part of the theme of equivocation, of ambiguity, of false words and false appearances, which runs through Macbeth.

Are the witches' intentions towards Macbeth in the beginning foul or fair? Is Duncan, the meek King who applauds savagery in battle, as gentle as he seems? Is Banquo noble or self-serving? Are Thanes like Lenox and Ross honourable or opportunistic? Does Malcolm truly represent good, when, as he does to Macduff, he can imitate evil so well?

Roman Polanski - Macbeth Witches Opening Scene

Many Of The Spoken Words In Macbeth Have Double Meanings

Words spoken by so many of the characters have double meanings and so can be read in several ways. And then of course there is the huge deception practised on Macbeth. The witches show him visions and promise: ‘All this is so.’ And so it is, but not in the way that Macbeth expects. They have lied ‘like truth’: they have equivocated. The porter, of course, adds a note of black comedy to the theme of the evils of double meaning, tying it to the famous equivocation practised by one of the gunpowder plot culprits. His satirical in-jokes would have made the Elizabethans laugh in recognition, and perhaps shudder as well, for the Elizabethans hated the ‘fiend that lies like truth.’ Such equivocation destroyed certainty in their world, and made it seem a dangerous, shifting place.

In Macbeth Evil Exists Side By Side With Good

Besides equivocation that can make bad things seem good, evil in Macbeth can also exist side by side with good. We watch the struggle between good and evil within Macbeth. Then, the batlle lost and won, we see the evil growing and corrupting him still further. The disease spreads beyond him, affecting the whole of Scotland. Linked with evil is disorder: the natural world shudders and quakes, and the order of things seem to be turned upside down. But Macbeth is not the only source of evil. There is something dark in the world outside of him. The witches are there before we meet Macbeth. Black night and ravens are the other side of the sun and of the martlets. They exist without Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. But the misguided couple seize on the darkness that is around them, and use it to strengthen the evil impulses within themselves, edging out the good as darkness squeezes out light during an eclipse.

The shadows over Scotland lift only when the forces of justice and order return to defeat Macbeth, and to restore harmony to the world. We must assume that the world is still, in some ways, both fair and foul. But evil has been put in its place, and balance restored. It is now up to Scotland’s kings to see fair as fait, and foul as foul.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      DABOSS!!! 3 years ago

      I think Macbeth is the BOSS!!!!!

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      macbeth is evil

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)