Darkness, Sign of Chaos in Macbeth


Sign of Chaos in Macbeth

Darkness in our society is indicative of
evil. For instance, a black cat, a dark night, and a dark place are all
symbolic of diablerie. Authors use these symbols to describe an evil character
or setting. William Shakespeare employs the imagery of darkness in Act

4 of his play Macbeth to describe the agents of disorder. The witches,

Macbeth, and Scotland are all described as dark because they represent
the agents of chaos.

The witches in the first scene of Act 4
are depicted as agents of chaos because of the dark domain around them.

The witches meet in a dark cave. The cave is an appropriate setting for
the witches because caves tend to represent the under-world and hell, creating
a feeling of evil. The witches appearance, "secret, black, and midnight
hags" also indicates their evil nature. The witches dark meeting place
and dark appearance all emphasize their destructive nature.

Macbeth in Act 4: consulted with the witches,
murdered Macduff\'s family, and continued to create chaos in Scotland. Macbeth
in Act 4 is described as an agent of disorder, "untitled tyrant bloody-sceptered".

The language in Act 1 that described Macbeth has changed from "noble" and"kind" to the diction of Act 4 witch describes Macbeth as "black Macbeth"
and a "tyrant". The Castle that Macbeth lives in, Dunsanine is also indicative
of darkness. Dunsanine is similar to the word dungeon a dark and dirty
place. In Act 4 Macbeth is an agent of disorder, he murders and he consults
witches, because of this he is described using dark imagery.

Scotland under the rule of Macbeth is described
as, "shrouded in darkness", by Malcolm. Scotland in Act 4 has fallen off
the "Chain of Being" and is now occupied with the forces of chaos and disorder.

Scotland in Act 4 is filled with "sighs, and groans, and shrieks, that
rent the air". Scotland is described by Ross as, "O Nation Miserable".

All these descriptions of Scotland portray Scotland as a place where the
agents of darkness have shrouded the land.

The agents of chaos and disorder were symbolized
by darkness in Act 4. The witches were described as, "dark as midnight";

Macbeth was described as , "devilish and dark"; and Scotland was described
as "dying". The imagery of darkness also plays an important role in character
development. Macbeth in Act 1 was an agent of order and thus was described
with words such as "noble" and "loyal" but when Macbeth became an agent
of disorder he was described with words such as "dark" and "devilish".

This same character development is true for Scotland which in Act 1 was
described as the land of light; but in Act 4 when it became the land of
evil was described with diction such as dark and grave like.