Dark & Light Imagery in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Topics: Macbeth, Light, Darkness Pages: 3 (992 words) Published: April 6, 2008
Shakespeare is known widely for his amazing talent in play writing. His use of intense detail builds up the setting and personality of the characters in his plays. In the play Macbeth, Macbeth himself, drowned by greed and complete darkness, kills the king in an effort to be crowned. His reign of terror, driven by insanity and darkness builds the suspense in the play. The evil atmosphere in Macbeth grows darker with every pain staking casualty the characters encounter. The use of pathetic fallacy darkens the mood and atmosphere of the play as the natural world foreshadows upcoming events. It is Shakespeare’s use of dark and light imagery that intensifies the evil atmosphere in the play. Examples of these would be the numerous appearances of the witches, the dagger scene followed by the murder of Duncan and Banquo.

The witches are the main sources of evil in the play Macbeth. Whenever the witches make an appearance, a storm or darkened forest accompanies them. This represents great evilness and darkens the atmosphere. The opening scene description states, “Thunder and lightening. Enter three Witches.” (Act I sc.i) Which is said before the witches are introduced, proves that a dark and evil atmosphere surrounds them. It also depicts how they are followed by that kind of nature due to the storm conditions. The witches also carry with them, an atmosphere that resembles pure filthiness, “Fair is foul and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air.” (Act I sc.i, l.11-12) This shows that they are dirty, evil, and nothing more than a walking plague. An example to show how dark imagery also gives a clear picture of the conditions would be towards the end of Hecate’s, queen of witches, speech, “Hark! I am call’d; my little spirit, see. Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me.” (Act III sc.v, l.34-35) This could possibly give a clear picture of the ugly and foggy conditions that are shown with this type of dark imagery. These are effective examples of...
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