Macbeth (Motif) – Light and Darkness

Underlying Idea Enhances themes of: Good and Evil, and Great Chain of being
Synopsis Chain in Order = Light is dominant (Good) Break in Chain = Darkness is dominant (Evil)
Light symbolizes the Great chain of being Duncan announces his successor = “Which honor must not unaccompanied invest him [The Prince of Cumberland, King Duncan’s son and successor to the throne] only, but signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine/on all deservers”. King Duncan pledges his Throne to his son because he is compatible with the Great Chain of Being; light equate to nobleness, suggests the chain is in order. Duncan = King Duncan is a symbol of light at the start. He is good, noble and just.
Darkness symbolizes the entry of Chaos into the Great chain of being The 3 Witches = Embody evil and darkness (“Instruments of Darkness”). Darkness is evident in weather in Witches Scenes (“Thunder, Rain and Lightning) Before Murder = When Duncan announces his successor (“Stars hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires”). Darkness hides evil, and light reveals. FURTHERED WITH MURDERERS PUTTING LIGHT OUTWhen Duncan is murdered = Darkness enters the story (Is’t night’s predominance, or the day’s shame, / That darkness does the face of the earth entomb/ When living light should kiss it”). Darkness not natural part of the chain; has entered over light. The Sun = “Dark night strangles the travelling lamp [the sun]” (Ross). Sun is a symbol of the Great Chain of Being and God’s harmony, the source of light. Macbeth’s actions subdue the sun, clarify them as act against God. ACTIONS ARE WHAT IS CAUSING DARKNESS AND EVIL TO ENTER THE CHAINLady Macbeth = She fears darkness, constantly commands the have light by her side (especially when Sleepwalking). Pathetic attempt to keep guilt away.

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