Darkness, 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
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