How Is the Image of Darkness Used and Developed Throughout Macbeth?

Topics: Macbeth, Three Witches, Emotion Pages: 2 (726 words) Published: April 25, 2013
In Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth’, the image of darkness is used and developed throughout for many dramatic purposes. The tragic play is set in Scotland in the 11th Century and highlights the key idea of darkness. In Elizabethan England, night air was said to be impure and it was the air in which evils were most free since it was not purged by the sunshine. Shakespeare uses the dark imagery to create a mysterious and gloomy atmosphere. It also manipulates the audience’s emotions by evoking an emotional response. Furthermore, it is used to develop the characters and show how they change. There are many reasons for the repeated motif as it is a very powerful metaphor.

The darkness imagery in Macbeth contributes to its ominous and threatening atmosphere. From the first lines of the play, the metaphor is introduced and the scene is set. When the three witches first spoke, the first witch said: "When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?" This darkness imagery contributes to the menacing atmosphere of the play, having reference to thunder and dark storms as they are symbols evil. Just before the murder of Banquo, Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth of how "Light thickens, and the crow makes wing to the rooky wood: Good things of day begin to droop and drowse, whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse". This exemplifies the darkness as the imagery is describing how when day turns into night all the good things go to sleep and all the evil creatures come out. Since the imagery creates an ominous atmosphere, it also leads to a second dramatic purpose; to stimulate the emotions of the audience.

The darkness imagery arouses the emotions of the audience as it enables them to create a mental picture of what they are reading. The play is filled with this imagery and night is invoked whenever anything terrible is going to happen. Lady Macbeth asks "thick night" to come with the "smoke of hell," so no one would see the murder of the sleeping...
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