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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 

grave like. 

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