Each character in Macbeth has to either fight or give in to the evil. Because evil is contrary to human nature, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have to go against their own conscience in order to murder Duncan. When the witches predict that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and later, King of Scotland, he is stunned to silence by their prophecies. When murder enters Macbeths mind he is frightened by his thoughts. He tries to reject his impulse, declaring that he will leave everything to chance:
If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me Without my stir. Very soon he begins to confess a ‘suggestion of ‘horrible imaginings Soon after, he admits to possessing ‘black and deep desires but he is afraid to speak about them openly, even to himself. Later on he indites a letter to Lady Macbeth containing conjecture about the prophecies of the three witches. She immediately wants to take fate into her own hands. She begs the evil spirits to tear all human feelings from her, for she knows that she will have to urge her husband, Macbeth, to become King by murdering Duncan.
She will have to give up all the gentle, tender qualities of a woman, so that she can become a sexless, pitiless demon. She has to make her husband ignore his own conscience. She declares: Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it. By ‘illness she means ‘evil Macbeth seizes evil, as one might catch a disease. When Macbeth has the opportunity to think about his wife’s suggestions and about his desires to become King, he becomes aware of the duty that he owes to Duncan, his loyal King. Following a great battle with himself, Macbeth decides not to go through with the murder.
He states to Lady Macbeth: We will proceed no further in this business. Macbeth is not prepared for all her wrath and abuse. She calls him a coward. When in reality it is not cowardice that restrains Macbeth, it is his conscience. She also insults his masculinity, and declares that she would have murdered her child while it was feeding at her breast, rather than break such a promise as Macbeth had done. Persuaded by her conviction, he yields to her, and in order to prove himself a man in her eyes, goes against his own nature and agrees to the murder of King Duncan..
The night of the murder Macbeth is very troubled; he is living a nightmare. Lady Macbeth is as tense as he husband, and she has been drinking to give herself courage. As Macbeth walks to Duncan’s chambers, his imagination creates a dagger floating in the air. At first he is alarmed by the dagger, later he seems to enjoy the horror of the moment. After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth is horrified to think of what he has done. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is bold and confident, because she does not understand that the deed is morally wrong; her only concern at the time is to destroy the evidence.
Macbeth awakens to a consciousness of guilt that will remain with him until his death. Trace the effect the betrayal of human nature has on each of them. Following the murder of Duncan the Macbeths appear to have achieved their hearts desire; in reality, they only gain torment and dismay. When Macbeth takes the crown by murder he upsets the natural order of his life. He becomes a cruel and unjust ruler and is always conscious of guilt. Macbeth brings chaos to Scotland, breaking up the balance of a well-ordered country, just as he breaks up the state banquet ‘with most admir’d disorder claiming to have seen the Ghost of Banquo.
Soon after the murder of Banquo, Macbeth begins to grasp an unreality about his life, but that does not seem to change his conduct. Macbeth’s cruelty in action is shown when Lady Macduff and her son are brutally slaughtered. When he planned to kill Banquo’s son, Fleance, he could acquit the murder to himself by referring to the prophecy that Banquo’s children should be kings. But he is in no danger from Lady Macduff or her son; the crime is more loathsome because it is motiveless. At the beginning of the play Lady Macbeth prayed that she should know ‘no compunctious visitings of nature hat might prevent her from murdering Duncan.
Now she walks in her sleep, and her mind constantly re-lives the night of the murder. On that night she declared confidently that ‘a little water clears us of this deed but now she knows that ‘all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand Fear and guilt drive her mad, soon she kills herself. By the end of the play Macbeth sees life as an empty, meaningless sham. He feels old and lonely: My way of life Is fall’n into the sere, the yellow leaf; And that which should accompany old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have.
When he finds out that Lady Macbeth killed herself ‘by self and violent hands he states: She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word. To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this pretty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.
At the end of the play, as the soldiers move closer to Dunsinane, Macbeth does not respond with excitement. He has lost the ability to feel fear or, as we see when he hears of his wife’s death, grief. Macbeth chooses to die in battle. Macduff challenges him, but he is reluctant to fight: Of all men else I have avoided thee: But get thee back, my soul is too much charg’d With blood of thine already. Macduff has a vengence against him for the brutal murder of his family, so he has no choice but to kill him. How does the play portray evil as a perversion of human nature
In Macbeth, Shakespeare tries to show us that human nature cannot be avoided, for evil is a perversion of human nature. Before Duncans murder, things in the Macbeth household seemed very ‘normal and good-natured. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth seemed to have a blissful and healthy marriage, they were very happy together, trusting each other with their intimate thoughts and feelings. Lady Macbeth was a very strong woman. She was very loyal to her husband and would do anything to make him happy. Lady Macbeth was also very manipulative and persuasive at times.
It was because of her encouragement that Macbeth decides to murder Duncan, his good-hearted King. Because of her ambition for her husband, she used all her strength and intelligence for evil purposes. Macbeth was a mighty and ambitious leader of Duncan’s army. Things were going well for him, especially after the battle against Macdonwald and his band of rebels; and then against the Norwegians and the Scottish traitor. He was later named Thane of Cawdor for his bravery and loyalty to Duncan. When he hears the witches predictions that he will be King, they sound like great news; actually they lead to death and destruction.
For, his desire to become King, he is willing to turn his back on what he knows to be right. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth truly believe that by killing Duncan they would attain their hearts desire, but once Macbeth kills Duncan, he is committed to a course of lying and killing. He will do anything to keep his title as King of Scotland. His sense of right and wrong has disintegrated and he seems to be living a nightmare. Macbeth throws all ideas of honor out the window. Once he has done that, nobody knows in whom they can trust. His entire alliance with Lady Macbeth is shattered.
He does not tell her about the murder of Banquo or ask her for her notion on the matter. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is suffering from nightmares. In her sleepwalking she refers to incidents that happened during the night of the murder: Out damned spot! Out, I say! One; two. Why then ’tis time to do ‘t. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him It is as if she is re-living that horrible night over, and over again. After the night of the murder she lept no more
Because of her lack of rest and her guilty conscience she decided that she could no longer go on living, she kills herself. Macbeth does not go down without a fight. Edward the Confessor’s army is attacking him, yet he puts on his armour and goes out to join in the battle. Macbeth is at last forced to confront Macduff, who cuts off his head and brings it to the rightful King, Malcolm. At last order has been reinstated to Scotland, and affairs will once again be controlled ‘in measure, time, and place In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s downfalls are caused by their betrayal of human nature.
They both try to ignore their own consciences, which leads to unfortunate mishaps on both of their parts. After the brutal murder of Duncan, everything changes. Lady Macbeth feels guilty, and suffers from nightmares relating to the incident, which lead to her suicide. Macbeth, on the other hand, is forced to a course of killing and lying. His sense of right and wrong ceases to exist. He does not give up easily, though. He fights just until his death, which is brought on by Macduff. Even before he is killed, Macbeth is dying of a diseased spirit.