Parallels Between Macbeth and Satan in Macbeth by William Shakespeare Essay

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Parallels Between Macbeth and Satan in Macbeth by William Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Shakespeare creates parallels between the protagonist, Macbeth, and Satan. Many critics believe Macbeth and Satan share a common thread in their high peaks and low drops. Throughout the play, Macbeth is very much the shadow of Satan in his eminence, ambitions, and consequences.
Macbeth mirrors Satan in being the right hand man for his king and second in power. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed as a "...valiant Cousin! Worthy gentlemen!"(1.2.24) Many of his fellow peers feel Macbeth is honest and true: "For brave Macbeth -- well he deserves that name" (1.2.16). However, as the play commences, critic Robert Pack believes "...Macbeth exhibits a balance of hard and soft virtues: courage, bravery, strength, defiance, pride, and ambition" (Pack 276). This flower of greatness and light slowly starts to feed off his ambitions which leads to Macbeth's greed for power. Much like Satan, Macbeth's ambition seizes control of him until he can think only to further his powers.
Macbeth and Satan both take matters into their own hands as they strive for complete power. Robert Pack surmises "...Macbeth sins like Satan -- without any provocation except his own inexplicable pride and ambition" (Pack 276). Like Satan, Macbeth contemplates the chance to become king and feeds his need for greed knowing that:
"The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires,
Let not light see my black and deep desires.
The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see" (1.4.48-53).


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...s to blame. Like a withering flower which becomes old, dead, and useless, Macbeth also becomes old in body, dead in soul, and useless in life.
The characters Macbeth and Satan both share the same ambitions and the same downfalls. Each character knows that the greatest evil one can embellish is knowing that something is wrong yet still committing the sinful act. The comparisons between Macbeth and Satan can best be drawn as two great heroes becoming villainous due to their ambitions and own greed for power.


Bradley, A.C. "Shakespearean Tragedy." World Literature Criticism - 1500 to the Present. Ed. James P. Draper. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992. 3154-3158.
Pack, Robert. "Shakespeare and the Tragedy of Our Time." Shakespearean Criticism Vol.3. Eds. Langen Harris and Mark W. Scott. Detroit: Gale, 1986. 275-278.

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