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How are the scenes throughout Macbeth portrayed?

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Introduction

How are the scenes throughout Macbeth portrayed? The scene begins at dawn with a blood red sky creeping over a desolate beach, creating a strange eerie atmosphere. The red sky, traditionally symbolic of danger, stands as a warning of evil to come, as in the saying 'Red sky at night shepherds delight red sky in the morning shepherds warning.' The whole image is quite unnerving. A gnarled stick then emerges on the screen, it appears unnatural and disjointed having no apparent owner. The distorted form is reminiscent of a witches finger. Much of the scene is carried out in absolute silence, creating an atmospheric tension broken only by the cry of a seagull, reminiscent of the cry of a human child, a disturbing sound. Nearing the end of the scene music begins to evolve, it follows a disjointed atonal rhythm, denoting the presence of evil. The speech of the witches is in riddle form, they chant and at times speak in union asking rhetorical questions. Polanski has the last line and most dramatic line of the scene played first, 'fair is foul and foul is fair hover through the fog and misty air.' The latter line is particularly significant the witches on leaving appearing to float away, leaving no footprints in the ground, before being totally enclosed in the mist. ...read more.

Middle

Grampion fail to create the same unearthly and mysterious setting. Whereas Polanski used the last line in the play as a beginning, to establish a sense of chaos, Grampion uses fire, being reminiscent of destruction, hell and executions at the stake (in the past, a punishment for being a witch),it suggests a corrupt world, overrun with evil. There are other ways as to how the first scene might be produced. A more modern adaptation might be held at an American high school. As substitutes to witches, three school 'nerds' could be cast. They wouldn't fit into 'normal' society, as intellectual types they might be the only people going to science club, having an interest in natural forces. This interest develops into something more sinister as they try to defy the rules of the natural world. Like witches they would be outcasts and anyone associating with them or appearing to sympathize with them would have their reputations ruined (as would anyone associating with suspected witches in Shakespeare's day). The scene could also take place in an overgrown, inner-city churchyard long filled in and replaced. The weather would be dark and stormy mist hanging around the graves. The three characters would be conducting experiments there, where they were safe from criticism and reproach. ...read more.

Conclusion

By making them wholly evil the play justified James the firsts fear of witchcraft and his killing of those supposedly practicing it. Shakespeare's use of a storm to create the mood at the beginning of a story is very effective. It creates an atmosphere of impending doom and helps to build a curiosity concerning the character Macbeth. The scene immediately draws you in, giving an impression of what the play is about without you needing any knowledge of the characters. It also introduces many of the main themes of the play, such as witchcraft, fatalism and justice. Potentially this opening scene provides very good beginning to the story. Its effectiveness would be particularly notable in Shakespeare's day because of the use of witches, a controversial issue at that time. Although people's belief and fear of witches has somewhat diminished up to the modern day, they still arouse interest as an unproved point of speculation, many still believing in their existence and power. Of the two film adaptations of the opening scene that we have studied, Polanski's was that which l preferred. He succeeded in creating the mysterious atmosphere the scene demands. Grampion's scene is much more flat and un-animated, both the characters and scenery are less authentic, failing to create the same strange and disturbing mood. Polanski constructs a foundation of chaos and mystery, fitting to the flawed and fated character of Macbeth. ...read more.

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