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In the opening scene of Macbeth, how does Shakespeare set the atmosphere for what will happen later in the play?

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MACBETH In the opening scene of Macbeth, how does Shakespeare set the atmosphere for what will happen later in the play? 'Macbeth' is set in Scotland. At the time, Scotland was united with England because James 1 of England also became James V1 of Scotland, the first monarch to rule both countries. 'Macbeth' was written in 1606. This was just a year before the Gunpowder Plot, led by Guy Fawkes, attempted to kill the king and destroy the Houses of Parliament. During this period English society was full of treachery and nobody could be trusted. Also, at this time, there was very little technology and no scientific explanation for strange goings on, such as the miscarriage of babies. Many people, therefore, believed that witchcraft and 'agents of the devil' were responsible for anything that could not be explained. Shakespeare draws on these superstitions when he uses the witches to set the scene at the opening of 'Macbeth'. ...read more.


The women would be old and wrinkled with warts and moles in very prominent places. This description is of course a very stereotypical view of witches. The audience would immediately relate to the women being witches if this description was used. In both the Polanski version and the cartoon film, 'Animated Tales', the music is discordant and unharmonious. I too would use this type of music in the staging of this opening scene as it would unsettle the audience and remind them that evil is very much the theme of this play. In my production, the lighting would be dim and the action set at night, the time when people believed that evil was about, and when the devil did his work. Lightning and thunder would be present when the witches first enter onto the stage Shakespeare also chose to have this as a stage direction in his play, "Thunder and Lightning. Enter three witches". This type of weather has long been associated with evil because powerful forces are released and for many centuries there was no explanation for it. ...read more.


It also displays that Macbeth has an important role in the play and is somebody the audience should concentrate on in the later scenes. The witches' knowledge and flattery of Macbeth in scene three, for example "All hail Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter" leads the audience to think that he is being encouraged by them to become the King by any means, ruthless or not. The audience's reaction to this would be a strong dislike of the witches. If the witches did not give Macbeth this prophecy he would probably not have tried to force his way onto the throne and would still have been an honest and loyal 'Thane'. In conclusion, this scene identifies Macbeth and links him to the future evil and tragic events that will unfold during the play. Although the witches must take some blame for influencing Macbeth with their prophesies and temptations, he has free will and could have chosen not to use evil methods to make their predictions come true. Robert Lindsay 3 ...read more.

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