The Ambiguity Of Good And Evil In William Shakespeare's Macbeth

Xun Zi said that, “Human nature is evil, and goodness is caused by intentional activity”. Macbeth displays the tendencies of human nature to be evil as well as the ways in which it attempts to be good. The author and playwright William Shakespeare, also uses character foil to show the extreme differences in morals, ambition, and the tendencies of human nature.

The characters Macbeth and Banquo personify the ambiguity of good and evil. They are both portrayed as ambitious men, but as the play progresses only one is consumed by his ambition and the temptations of power. Banquo is a foil to Macbeth because he resists his egocentric ambitions and instead chooses to honor his country. Macbeth on the other hand becomes consumed in
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Her strong personality makes her a very ambitious character which in turn illustrates the theme of ungovernable ambition. Lady Macbeth’s own ambition encourages her to animate Macbeth’s. She advises Macbeth to, “look like th’ innocent flower, but be the serpent under it”()This quote is a biblical allusion; the serpent is a reference to Stan tempting Adam and Eve, with the forbidden fruit. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in this instance represent Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit is the prophecy that Macbeth will one day be King. Similar to Macbeth, she is driven by her ambition, and encourages him to kill Duncan. She is a foil to Macbeth in the sense that she makes him appear less evil. In Act 1, scene 5 Lady Macbeth calls to the spirits to “unsex” her so that she might be a man. The reason for her desire to become a man is because; she believes it will allow her to act more ruthlessly. Lady Macbeth knows that her husband has enough determination to kill Duncan but he might be reluctant because it is morally wrong. Lady Macbeth is persuasive and paired with Macbeth’s ambition she convinces him to expedite the prophecy by murdering Duncan. Once the deed is done Lady Macbeth feels extremely guilty and her previous ambition make her become mentally ill. She begins sleepwalking and admitting to the terrible crimes she has committed. As Lady Macbeth’s metal health declines, Macbeth looses his previous reservations and moral restraint. He becomes ruthless to the point of no return, which in turn leads him to his ultimate downfall. Lady Macbeth’s deterioration into madness due to guilt displays yet again, that the nature of humanity to be evil is accompanied by the weakness of a person. This highlights the theme of the nature of humanity and its tendancy to be or become

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