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Analyse the rise and fall of Macbeth

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'This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues, Was once thought honest.' 'Macbeth' IV. Iii 12-13 Analyse the rise and fall of Macbeth William Shakespeare wrote 'Macbeth' between the years of 1603 and 1606. This coincides with the ascension of James the Sixth of Scotland to the English throne whereby he became known as James I. James I believed himself to have special powers because he was king and he also had an interest in witchcraft, apparitions and ghosts. The use of witchcraft in 'Macbeth' relates to the topicality of these issues as Shakespeare's audience would have been aware of these. The play also explores the issues of kingship and loyalty. These were of importance to James as his life had his life threatened by a group of witches in Scotland in 1591 and in 1605 Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up his government. During Shakespeare's life there had been much turmoil in Britain regarding the throne and religion. The country, therefore, knew only too well the dire implications of insurrection and anarchy. This is reflected in 'Macbeth.' 'Macbeth' opens with an overwhelming sense of unease, the atmosphere is tense and the weather reflects this with thunder and lightning. The three witches symbolise supernatural happenings which adds to the dramatic tension and foreboding. ...read more.


He has achieved all the power he is ever going to achieve; we have witnessed the rise of Macbeth. All except Macduff, who discovers the body, are willing to accept him as king. However, in a soliloquy, Macbeth thinks - 'To be thus is nothing.' III.i, 47 He means to make his position safe and also reveals that the witches' prediction that Banquo's offspring should become king is entirely unacceptable to him. He hires two murderers to perform the murder of Banquo and Fleance. Lady Macbeth, who has been his 'dearest partner of greatness', is not privy to his plans- 'Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest Chuck,' III.ii, 45 Macbeth has detached himself from his reliance on his wife. Banquo's murder results in disaster for Macbeth. At a feast soon after his death, his chair is occupied by a ghost. This ghost can be viewed as Macbeth's guilt, invisible to others, but a terrifying reality to Macbeth himself. When the ghost and guests have gone, Macbeth's mind is still in turmoil, he can see no way out of his dilemma but to crush everyone around him who questions his will. He decides to revisit the witches, his reliance on them increases as reliance on his wife decreases, his decline in power begins and his depravity increases. ...read more.


The concentration of the play is on the character of Macbeth. The audience gets a wide context to Macbeth's character and behaviour by Shakespeare's use of what may be referred to in cinematic terms as 'close up' and 'longer range shots'. He uses minor characters to comment on the main action in order to give the audience details to Macbeth's behaviour. The imaginative use of language and symbolism by Shakespeare gives 'Macbeth' a new dimension between the contrasts of good and evil. Although it is a short and simple plot which is easily held in the mind of the reader and has few main characters, it highlights moral dilemmas. The plot is set in a specific historical period but in spite of this, the themes are of universal interest and relevance to today. It is a play about morality, using themes such as loyalty, ambition, conscience, delusion and social and psychological order to explore the human condition. These characteristics, which are resonant throughout make 'Macbeth' Shakespeare's most widely read, memorable and adaptable play. Many of Shakespeare's plays examine situations of political ambitions and power in settings such as Rome, Egypt, Denmark and Scotland. 'Macbeth' offers a penetrating analysis of personal aspiration and political ambition. It shows that even noble men - as Macbeth was at the beginning, are vulnerable to the destructive possibilities of power. ?? ?? ?? ?? Nikhil Sehmi 10PJM Shakespeare Coursework Page 1 ...read more.

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