In Macbeth, Shakespeare presents us with a powerful vision of evil. From the very opening scene of the play, the power of evil is displayed with supernatural activities. The theme of evil and it’s consequences are clearly seen throughout the play as it changes the characters in the play and brings nothing but destruction. The fight between good and evil is depicted in the moral choices each character makes in the play. Evil is portrayed to be powerful as it is always seen to turn the hearts of the characters to seek for their own selfish desires.
The play opens with the supernatural forces in action. The witches meet in the heath in the mist of thunder and lightening. These very first images that are flashed into the reader’s mind pictures the powers of evil in action behind the scenes. The reader is captured by the sense of mystery as the witches speak in riddles. In the time period when Shakespeare wrote this play, the witches were believed to exist and were feared upon by the people to posses evil spirits who bring destruction. The first scene of the play sets the foundation for the play and shows the reader a glimpse of the evil power that will come into play.
The witches can be seen as the most evil characters throughout the play who bring ruin in other’s lives for their own benefit. In scene 3 of act 1, we can see their true evil character. The first witch describes how she has planned to bring a sailor’s family to ruin by tossing the sailor’s ship around the sea just because his wife had denied the witch some chestnuts.
The reader learns the physical appearance of the witches when Macbeth and Banquo encounter the witches. The witches “look not like the inhabitance o’ th’ earth” – this statement by Banquo paints the appearance of the witches in the reader’s mind. Ignoring the questions and remarks the witches were receiving, they speak what the had come for. “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee Thane of Galamis!” “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee Thane of Cawdor!” “All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” These prophetic words has successfully raised Macbeth’s deep desire to be the king of Scotland. His desire which is now watered by the witches to grow finally drives Macbeth to many murders and brings destruction on himself.
When we first hear of Macbeth from the captain reporting to king Duncan, we see a brave and loyal solider who has fearlessly defeated Scotland’s enemies. As the play progresses along with Macbeth’s evil desire for power, we see this once noble man of Scotland bringing himself to ruin by his own sinful actions. Macbeth’s evil actions does not go unnoticed as the nature bears witness to everything. The natural moral order has been changed. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair: hover through the fog and filthy air.” An owl which is a prey to falcon has killed the falcon. Duncan’s horses have gone wild in nature, broke their stalls and ate each other.
Macbeth’s evil actions has not only destroyed him but has also brought chaos for Scotland and for the natural world. This main theme of ‘evil’ in Shakespeare’s play teaches us the powerful deceitfulness of sin and evil desires.