The Nature of Evil in Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

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Macbeth: The Nature Of Evil

In Macbeth, the character of Macbeth has a. firm and correct grasp of self-knowledge, and a well developed concept of the universe and his place in it. He willfully disregards his own moral thoughts and institutions. According to Bernard McElroy, "more than any other Shakespearean hero, he [Macbeth] has a perfectly clear concept of who he is and where he stands --- and it is exactly this perception that torments and spiritually destroys him"(330). Macbeth is strongly impelled to evil but he also abhors evil. It is this that causes Macbeth to abhor himself. The play explores the tensions between Macbeth's proneness to evil and his abhorrence to evil. Macbeth is a tragic hero because he becomes
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Macbeth is blinded by his ambition and like Satan battling God in heaven, yearns for a position higher than he is fit to have. In the Renaissance, too much lust and ambition was seen as a "rebellion against the will of God and the order of nature. . . Macbeth through love of self, sets his own will against that of God, chooses a lesser finite good --- kingship and power - rather than a greater infinite one"(Ribner, 290). According to Renaissance notions, an overly ambitious man will try to obtain a higher chain of being than the place God has ordained for him. Macbeth, like Satan who tried to vie for his power in heaven and forgot that he is not the creator but a servant created by and for God, strives to achieve power and ambition forgetting his place in society and his relationship to God. Macbeth must break the bonds which he believes tie him to the "good" of God. Immediately before the murder of Banquo, Macbeth mutters these lines:

Come seeling night, Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day; And with thy bloody and invisible hand Cancel and tear to pieces the great bond Which keeps me pale (III, ii, 46-50)

The bond Macbeth refers to is the bond between man and God. In order to commit his deed, he must sever his ties to God. According to Irving Ribner, "The `great bond' has usually been glossed either as the prophecy of the witches or

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