Shakespeare wrote many plays and Macbeth is one of his most compelling
Shakespeare wrote many plays and Macbeth is one of his most compelling. When Shakespeare was writing this play many people had different perceptions about witches, and the supernatural side of life.
James 1 was one of these people; he believed a ‘witch’ had put a curse on his boat when he was going to Denmark to get married. This led James 1 to write a book on Demonology. Later on Agnes Sampson the person who put a ‘curse’ on James 1, confessed, and was sentenced to death.
This meant she had attempted to commit treason, the worst kind of treason, Regicide.
This was one of the ideas that led Shakespeare to write Macbeth. So he could give his opinions of the supernatural, and also to please James 1. He did this by reflecting in the play that he supported James 1 right to be on the throne. He also wrote this play because he knew the audience was interested in witches and so he exploited them in the play.
Act 1 scene 1 is one of the shortest scenes in the play as it is only one page long, but it is one of the most important. The scene only contains the 3 witches although other characters are talked about.
As you enter scene 1 the fact that they are on a moor is very interesting. It displays mystery, curiosity, and shows a secretive nature of the witches. Like they have something to hide. This makes the mood haunted and scary and slightly uneasy.
The weather adds tension to the scene as well. Thunder and lightening are right at the start of the play. This suggests that the rest of the play will be gloomy, eerie and full of surprises.
“When shall we three meet again in thunder lightening or in rain?” The first witch speaks these lines, and as they are the first lines in the play they are used to establish the mood. The mood of the play seems uneasy, eerie and a haunted kind of feeling. These lines show the witches are defiantly going to meet again, but only in bad weather conditions. I think that this suggests that the witches will only have bad news to deliver. If they had good news to deliver then different weather conditions would apply, such as sunny and bright. The weather also brings darkness to the play. This is effective in making the audience feel uneasy about the current situation. Read compare and contrast Macbeth and Banquo analysis
The second witch says the next lines in the play they are “when the hurlyburly’s done when the battles lost and won.” This is said in rhyme to emphasize the line to show that it is important. These lines are part of a prophecy that states when the fighting is over there will have been a battle, which has been lost and won. She is using contrast by using the opposites lost and won. This line means there has to be losers but there will always be a winner too. The effectiveness of this line is now the audience are waiting for a battle to happen. But also that people in the play will lose or suffer.
I feel the whole of this section has a rhythm, suggesting confidence. These next lines establish the witches will meet “upon a heath” which again like there meeting now is in a deserted place, suggesting they do not want to be found. Again implying the witches have something to hide.
“There to meet with Macbeth” is the line said by the third witch and it is very important. This shows whom they have been talking about all this time. As the witches have been speaking in rhyme the word Macbeth breaks the rhyme, telling us Macbeth is very important and has a great significance, this shows an association with evil, as they are not in rhythm. They are connecting Macbeth with evil already. Another reason for breaking the rhyme is so the audience and the reader will remember his name. Now the audience are waiting to see who Macbeth is, this adds to the tension already created.
The next two lines talk about animals, such as “graymalkin” which is a grey cat, and “paddock” which is a toad. Many people think this signifies evil alternatively I believe that these animals are probably the witches’ familiars. This shows they are communicating with animals, which doesn’t necessarily represent evil just the supernatural side of them.
At the end of this scene the witches speak together and say “Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.” This line uses alliteration. The ‘f’ sound is used six times in only two lines. Many people believe they use the ‘f’ sound so the line will stick in your mind and make you think but I also believe that the ‘f’ sound gives a negative image. Because the words using f are describing bad things, not good, suggesting a negative link to the lines. This gives an emphasis on evil.
The line “fair is foul, and foul is fair” has a hidden meaning which is what’s good is bad and what’s bad is good. I perceive this line as, a bit of bad always comes with the good and visa versa. This line affects the play by suggesting that something bad is going to happen but something good is going to come out of it. The contrast of these words put together link to the line “…lost and won” as the two lines both have the same meaning.
Also the word “hover,” said in the last line gives the illusion that they are flying off the stage. This gives a clear ending and finality to the scene. But now we know they can fly, and have other witchlike properties we do not feel comfortable in their company or trust them, as we do not know the extent of their powers.
Scene 1 has many connections to the rest of the play. Themes of the whole play are established here in scene 1. The witches have predicted what is going to happen in the future, this influences the themes of the play. Such as the theme that Macbeth will be in a battle. This leads to the fortunes of others being established. This connection to the play causes us to think that Macbeth will be in a battle and that he will either be a loser, or a winner. This all together seems to make the main theme of fate and evil.
Another connection is that if we see the witches being connected with evil, then we will see Macbeth being associated with evil too. Because the witches are talking about him, this links him directly to evil. Also as they mentioned Macbeth and portrayed him as an important person. We get the idea that the witches will reappear at key moments, when Macbeth is present.
Many times in the rest of the play language techniques will be further developed, and the meanings of the techniques will become clearer to the audience.
These points link to my next scene, which is, act 1 scene 3. This scene is where the witches have their meeting with Macbeth, and tell him his fortune. Banquo is also another important character in this scene. He is told fortunes about himself, but he hears Macbeth’s fortunes too, they are much more important than his.
As we enter scene 3 we are told the witches are on the moor and the weather is thunder. This is familiar to scene 1 because they were in the same place, with the same kind of weather. Some people may think this is just a coincidence alternatively I think it has a link that the witches control the weather this has an effective use to create the mood. This maybe suggests that the atmosphere in scene 1 will reflect onto scene 3. It is effective in making the audience think that scene 3 will contain bad news and evil.
Right at the start of the scene only the three witches are there. As you read on in the scene by line 10 you suspect they are casting a spell on someone. “But in a sieve I’ll thither sail, and like a rat without a tail” this is a line said by the first witch. This line implies that the witch wants to sail out to sea to take revenge on someone. The meaning of the line links to the theme of revenge. The fact that the line rhymes is done to intimidate you, it has an effective use that shows they are confident.
The second witch says, “Ill give thee wind”. This line shows closeness of the witches as they are sharing lines, it also shows she is supporting her fellow witch to take revenge on someone. These lines together are effective because they make you think again about the extent of their powers, it also makes you think about the links to the theme, the power of the supernatural.
We know when Macbeth is coming as the third witch says “Macbeth doth come” this is important as she is acknowledging his presence, which shows they were either expecting him, or it is a surprise. She also says it like it is a warning to the other witches, suggesting that something bad is about to happen. We have waited a long time for Macbeth to appear. Shakespeare does this so when Macbeth comes we are excited and want to read on.
After this line “the weird sisters” is the next line and it confirms that they are supernatural. The word ‘weird’ means supernatural, and as they all say it together it means they admit to having supernatural powers.
Macbeth enters the scene with Banquo on line 38; Macbeth’s first line is “so foul and fair a day.” He has repeated the exact same words the witches had said in scene 1. This automatically connects him to the witches. This line uses contrasts that are effective because they are opposites they represent good and evil. The hidden meaning to this line is, Macbeth has had a battle and that is ‘foul’ but he has won so that is ‘fair’. This links to the witches as they had given the exact same explanation of the line when they had said it. So now the reader asks the question can we trust Macbeth?
The witches’ prediction was right; some people may think this is just a coincidence, alternatively I think Shakespeare does this so we start to trust the witches. And start to believe what they are saying. When Macbeth has heard his prophecies he stands in disbelief. Banquo wonders why but Macbeth soon gets used to the fact that he is going to be king. When the witches start to leave, the line “stay you imperfect speakers, tell me more” means that he likes the news that he has heard, and although he thinks the witches are strange he wants to hear more, even though he knows him and Banquo shouldn’t stay to listen. This line also shows that Macbeth knows he has as a lot of power and he is not scared of the witches, as he has demanded them to say more.
At the end of this part the witches vanish, we do not know this time how they vanish, weather it is by air or another route. But it still confirms that the withes have supernatural powers. And that they can reappear and disappear at any time, this is effective as this makes the audience a bit wary of them now, just as they were starting to trust them.
Over the next few lines Macbeth and Banquo doubt what they have seen. At one point Banquo wonders weather he has taken and “…insane root” this is a drug known as Hemlock and it made men go mad. But as Banquo thinks on he quite likes the prospect of his children being kings and comes to have trust in the witches in the end. This makes us think that Banquo is having doubts and is making excuses for the witches.
“The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me in borrow’d robes” is the line that conveys dramatic irony. This is because we already know Macbeth is thane of Cawdor, but he does not. This line also uses imagery of clothing; it shows that garments are very important. Macbeth is offended that he is taking a persons place that is still occupied and is borrowing his clothes. It also suggests that no person’s role is definite.
Asides are used a lot in Macbeth they are used because when they are used it is the person speaking on their own. This is effective as it is thought when they are speaking on their own, they are telling the truth and are telling their own feelings. They might also do this because they do not want the people they are with to hear. Macbeth first aside is the line “Glamis and thane of Cawdor the greatest is behind” by this time he has found out that he is the thane of Cawdor and he thinks he has overcome the greatest prophecy. But what he really wants is the last prophecy, which is to be king. This line is effective as it portrays Macbeth’s selfish side. It also shows that he only wants the greatest things and that he is not thankful for what he has got already.
This is connected to the rest of the play as now we know he is thriving for the best and that maybe the selfish side of him will get in the way of him seeing clearly.
As Macbeth makes his next speech he is speaking in broken rhythm, which comes across to the audience like he has broken thoughts. It shows that Macbeth is nervous, not thinking straight and is also not sure of his next move. This is effective in making the audience think that his confidence is wavering.
Macbeth showed in some parts of the play that he was a bit religious by talking about god and when he said, “if chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me” he was talking about god. He was saying if god wants him to be king, then god will crown him and he will not have to help the process along. This is effective because he is again having doubts about helping the process along, and he is making excuses, which shows he is lacking confidence.
Scene 3 has many connections to the rest of the play. When the prophecies are told to Macbeth we know that they will be the basis of the play from now on as they are seen as having great importance, because one prophecy has come true already what is stopping the others form coming true. This connects to Macbeth being connected with evil; this connects to the rest of the play as he has already been connected with evil twice, why not again. The secret Macbeth and Banquo are keeping will also connect to the rest of the play, as it may bring out the evil in Macbeth, and it will certainly test the trust of their friendship. We want to see if they can keep the secret between them or not. Language techniques will also be developed further.
I conclude that Macbeth is a play of excitement. It appeals to a lot of audiences. This is because Shakespeare catches the reader’s attention. The play contains tension, excitement and originality for the reader. It combines all three together to make a very appealing book. The story contains many cliffhangers that leave you on tenterhooks, and this makes you want to read on. When Shakespeare wrote this book he was aware of what his audience was interested in and that’s what he exploited. He may have only written it to impress James 1 but he impressed many other people on the way. He touched many subjects that people wouldn’t dare to touch and maybe that is why people are still reading his plays today.
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