• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How Effectively Does Shakespeare Introduce The Major Themes Of The First Three Scenes?

Extracts from this document...


How Effectively Does Shakespeare Introduce The Major Themes Of The First Three Scenes? There are two main themes in the play Macbeth; these are the paradox "Fair is foul and foul is fair" and the tragic hero theme. These themes are introduced in the opening scenes and they are carried on throughout the rest of the play. I am going to analyse the ways in which Shakespeare introduces these themes in the opening three scenes of the play. The theme of "Fair is foul and foul is fair" means that the moral values in the play, along with everything else, have totally been turned around. Shakespeare uses this paradox to illustrate the fact that, in the play, people will do foul things to achieve, in their eyes, fair results. The tragic hero theme simply shows Macbeth as a hero with a fatal flaw, who could be great if it wasn't for the fatal flaw, in this case his ambition, egged on by the witches and Lady Macbeth. The first scene is a short but dramatic opening to the play. Firstly it informs the audience of two things: there is a battle somewhere and that the witches are planning to meet Macbeth. More importantly, however, this scene introduces some key ideas to the play. One of these is the idea of confusion and disorder. ...read more.


It is in this second scene we first meet Macbeth as a soldier recounts his brave acts to King Duncan. In the second scene we hear more about the battle mentioned in the first scene. The battle is between a force of rebels and the army of King Duncan in which Macbeth is a high-ranking officer. A soldier who fought in the battle on the side of King Duncan enters, wounded. He is asked to tell how the battle is going and he then proceeds to tell how Macbeth is fighting bravely. Macbeth is mentioned many times, and all references to him show him to be a hero, a brave fighter and a good soldier: * "Brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name), disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel". - This means that Macbeth is a hero that "disdains fortune", or does not accept what has been fated to happen, but he makes his own destiny, so strong is he in his actions. * "Like Valour's minion, carved out his passage, Till he faced the slave; which ne'er he shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, Till he unseamed him from the nave to the chaps" - Macbeth "Like Valour's minion, carved out his passage", in other words, Macbeth is the favourite of the personification of Courage or Valour and he fought his way to the leader of the rebels and he "unseamed him to ...read more.


But we know from a previous statement that Macbeth will not just let fate take its course, his ambition pushes him to create his own destiny. It is this ambition, fuelled by the words of Lady Macbeth and the witches' encouragement, that is Macbeth's fatal flaw that leads him to be a tragic hero. Shakespeare introduces the themes of the play very effectively in the opening scenes, he does so by: * Creating an air of confusion and disorder by manipulating the beliefs of the 16th century audience using the supernatural. * Highlighting the paradox "Fair is foul, foul is fair" by using a battle, where this paradox is most evident. He does this again by contrasting the foul theme of the first scene with the noble, fair theme of the second scene. * Introducing Macbeth as a hero in the second scene but showing how he is corrupted by the words of the witches in the third scene, showing his fatal flaw and portraying him as a tragic hero. In all, I believe Shakespeare has introduced the themes of the play very effectively, using many dramatic devices and contrasting scenes, such as the eyrie calm of the open heath and the bloody action of the battle, and the evil and deceitfulness of the witches in contrast to the nobility and valour of King Duncan. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Macbeth essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the impact of the witches in Act One Scenes One and Three

    3 star(s)

    It also implies they have met before. The second witch replies to the first witch by saying ' when the hurly-burly's done, when the battles lost and won' , which first of all shows the witches rhyming and creating a sort of chant , but also saying that the battle they are discussing, will be lost and won.

  2. Macbeth - Act 4 Scene 1: Discuss the Dramatic Potential in this scene.

    potions, however in the Macbeth on the Estate version of the play, the making of potions in a cauldron, has not been used. This is different in comparison to the Polanski version of the play. Also, by the end of the scene, Macbeth pulls back the curtain, and sees that

  1. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth develop shakespeares themes

    The sergeant gives Macbeth a worthy report that highlights Macbeth's bravery and courage: "But all's too weak, For brave Macbeth-well he deserves that name- Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, Which smoked with bloody execution, Like valor's minion carved out his passage" (Act I, Scene ii, Line 15-20).

  2. This essay will thoroughly canvass the main themes of Hamlet and Macbeth, and will ...

    This brings up doubts on Macbeth's mind, and then he slowly starts to rely on the witches prophecies. As a result of the prophecies, curiosity of how he could be King of Scotland aroused on Macbeth. He tells his wife about what happened and they finally decide to plan a conspiracy against the King.

  1. Compare and contrast the opening scenes of two or three plays you have studied ...

    However, they do mention that they will "meet with Macbeth." In the third scene of the opening act, the witches are present again. They now speak to Macbeth and Banquo, who return from battle. They declare that Macbeth is the Thane of Cawdor and shall be king.

  2. How do the first three scenes foretell the tragedy of Macbeth?

    companions such as Banquo and Lady Macbeth because of his evil deeds. Also it could mean that Macbeth has lost to evil, he has lost his good heart, his loyal and trustful attributes. Although he becomes the Thane of Cawdor, he has won the battle but he has lost the war against the desire of his ambitions.

  1. How Far do You Think it is True to Say that Macbeth is a ...

    the circumstance of fate, and of his being an instrument to the witches. The only talent that we do know of is his prowess on the battlefield; he is very good at killing people. This talent was not wasted though as he put his skill to good use in the furthering of his career as a tyrant.

  2. The tragic hero and the tragic

    TRAGIC CONFLICT: EXTERNAL * Usually there are two persons, of whom the hero is one---OR, * Two Parties or Groups, one of which the hero leads---OR, * The passions, tendencies, ideas, principles, forces which animate these persons or groups. In Richard II, for example, we have the King on one side and Henry Bollinbroke on the other.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work