Shakespeare Themes - Evil
Shakespeare seems to have been fascinated by the struggle between good and evil - not just externally, but also within people. Look at Macbeth, a brave man with many good qualities, but corrupted by evil forces like the witches putting him under pressure from outside and his own evil ambitions pushing him from inside. Lady Macbeth seems to fear what goodness remains in herself and begs the evil spirits to get rid of it:
"Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose,"
Look at Claudius, the murderer of King Hamlet Senior, who is a stable king in many ways, often seeks advice before acting on matters of state, avoids a war with Norway, and really wants to repent, but doesn't want to give up his ill-gotten gains.Evil itself may not be attractive to him but what he has gained from it is.
In Mercnant of Venice Shylock could hardly be described as evil. Evil may be at work in his vengefulness, but at the end he seems a pathetic and broken figure. The modern audience may have sympathy with him, earlier audiences may have felt he desrved all he got.

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