The Three Prayers to Darkness
Macbeth’s three prayers to darkness could be called the turning points of the play. Each time one of them is recited, the course of the play changes; characters change and react differently to stressful situations. The one preaching the prayer varies; one is by Lady Macbeth and the other two by Macbeth himself. Nonetheless, the purpose is always the same; it calls out for evil, a supernatural evil to do the sin of man. Curiously, the degree of evil that the prayer calls out for varies each time. This difference in degree of evil is what causes contrast and similarity between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The first prayer to darkness is recited by Lady Macbeth; it will reveal her true character, as well as show contrast between her and Macbeth. She summons the “spirits that tend on mortal thoughts”, and asks to be unsexed (Act 1, Scene 5, 39-40). With this, she mainly asks to be stripped of her womanhood: her kindness, her sympathy, and even her humanity. It is because of this ripping of womanhood that this prayer creates contrast with Macbeth. Macbeth was recognized to be brave, but kind in the beginning; Lady Macbeth herself criticizes the kindness that he has. From the moment Lady Macbeth asks to be filled “from the crown to the toe topfull of direst cruelty”, she and Macbeth psychologically clash (Act 1, Scene 5, 41-42). Lady Macbeth has become tainted; now that she’s called the “murd’ring ministers” her blood is “thick”. Macbeth, in the meantime is still honorable because his intentions are still pure, in contrast to those of Lady Macbeth after this prayer to darkness. The second prayer to darkness is performed by Macbeth. This is the prayer that shows his dark intentions for the first time. Unlike the last prayer, this one will show an evil pattern between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. He demands the stars to hide their fires, not letting light see his “black and deep desires” (Act 1, Scene 4, 51). Oddly, Macbeth appeals to...
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