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Why is act 1 scene 3 important to our understanding of Macbeth?

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Introduction

Why is act 1 scene 3 important to our understanding of Macbeth? Act 1 scene 3 of Macbeth gives us understanding of the play and insight into the plot. The play starts with three witches talking together in a heath. This bad weather echoes act 1 scene 1 were the witches say 'in thunder lightning or rain.' It is this inclement weather which helps to set the tone for the play. The audience understands the play will be a tragedy and they can tell this because of macrocosm and microcosm. This means they understand something bad will happen because of the bad weather. The witches at the start of the scene are talking amongst themselves, plotting to avenge on a woman. We really see how evil these witches are when they discuss a plan to take revenge on a person, which also gives us an insight into how they manage to corrupt Macbeth later in the play. The first witch says 'But in a sieve I'll thither sail, and like a rat without a tail, I'll do, I'll do and I'll do.' The simile, 'like a rat without a tail' shows what the witch will transform into and because a rat is an unpleasant creature the witch is thought of as unpleasant. This shows the time of the play as witches were seen not to have enough power to fully transform therefore the animals they transformed into had missing body parts, like a tail. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth is immediately stunned and when Banquo asks the question ' Good sir why do you start, and seem to fear?' Which is also a stage direction, we ask ourselves the question 'Have the witches struck a cord in Macbeth? We know from the real Macbeth of Scotland the he was entitled to the thrown. Had Macbeth had thoughts of being king, murdering the king?' Macbeth thinks to himself. This is a main point in the scene to our understanding of the play as maybe Macbeth had these thoughts of being King but blocked them from his mind, but now the witches have foretold it Macbeth might come to accept it and make plans to kill the king. This gives us a great understanding of the play and what is going to happen. Macbeth and Banquo's reactions to the witches differ quite a lot. They both seem suprised but Macbeth 'seems to fear' the predictions of the witches whereas Banquo greets them and is happy to hear them. He says 'You greet with present grace and great prediction.' The words 'grace' and 'great' prove how Banquo sees the prophecies as a good thing. Macbeth is anxious to here more and is worried whether the witches had read his. He says 'Stay you imperfect speakers, tell me more!' Then he says 'to be king stands not within the prospect of belief.' ...read more.

Conclusion

In the times Macbeth was set in it would have been justified for Macbeth to become king as he was next in line but he could not murder the king. Banquo sees how Macbeth is lost in his own world and covers for him. This suggests that Banquo is aware of Macbeth's darker thoughts. He makes out that Macbeth's new honours are just too much for him. However both the audience and Banquo know that it is the prophecies becoming true that is too much for Macbeth. Banquo says 'look how our partner is rapt withal...new honours come upon him.' Macbeth is still aside thinking to himself when he says 'If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me, without my stir.' This is hopeful thinking from Macbeth as because he was made Thane of Cawdor without doing anything; he could be made King without doing anything. The audience however, already knows that it will not be that easy for Macbeth. After Banquo interrupts Macbeth and hurries him along, Macbeth says to Banquo 'let us speak our free hearts to each other' which shows Macbeth needs to talk about what has happened and hopefully settle his mind. So at the end of the scene Macbeth is anxious and hopeful but the audience can see the evil in his mind and it is easy to see that the play is going to be a dark story for Macbeth and not very likely to end well. Stephen Graham 10E ...read more.

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