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Analyse and evaluate the techniques by which Shakespeare presents Macbeth’s changing feelings across the 3 major soliloquies.

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Introduction

Toby Bennett 9H GCSE English Literature - Macbeth Acts I - III.1 Essay on Macbeth's 3 Major soliloquies in I.7,II1 and III.1 Analyse and evaluate the techniques by which Shakespeare presents Macbeth's changing feelings across the 3 major soliloquies. In the following essay, I aim to provide an in-depth analysis of the change in feelings, emotions and even judgements which Macbeth experiences throughout the first three acts, focusing specifically on the three major soliloquies (I.7,II.1 & III.1). I am also looking to evaluate, compare and contrast the linguistic and theatrical techniques Shakespeare suggests to project this. In the first act, the major soliloquy (beginning, "If it 'twere done when 'tis done") is one of the first times we, as an audience catch a glimpse of the strange emotional turmoil that troubles Macbeth. In this speech, Shakespeare begins to convey the doubt and fear which is stopping Macbeth from going ahead with the plans that would lead to such an all-powerful position. He cannot bring himself to even confront the words which mean murder, let alone do the deed himself. For example he uses synonymous phrases such as, "assassination", "surcease" and, "jump the life" rather than "kill". This is an incredible contrast to the tyrannical figure who appears later on, in act III. If you compare the two main soliloquies, you can see that Macbeth is a completely changed man. ...read more.

Middle

As an example, I think of, "Tarquin's ravishing strides", referring to he who raped Lucrece and meaning that he must be very stealthy in his movement. There are many references to himself in this speech with some quite severe imagery attached to them. The phrases, "heat-oppressed brain", and, "fatal vision" come to mind. He is saying that he is becoming evil, the very thing he used to despise and that he is perhaps almost cursed (maybe by the weird sisters?). In the last soliloquy, there are some good examples of imagery as well. One of the main is that of, "My genius is rebuked...Mark Antony's was by Caesar", which is, of course a reference to Antony and Cleopatra (genius in this sense meaning guardian angel). Here Shakespeare is setting the scene for the murder of Banquo by having Macbeth talk about how he would like to rid himself of the man that could take him from the throne by using a light vs. dark image. Mark Antony vs. Caesar. Banquo vs. Macbeth. Although in this scene, Macbeth has taken on the role of a poised tyrant, it is also very similar to the other two. Each has its own meaning and message to convey of Macbeth's feelings and emotions at different periods in his life but we must remember that Shakespeare wrote the play not to be read but to be watched or even listened to. ...read more.

Conclusion

The idea of this soliloquy is to show Macbeth's real need to kill Banquo and a man of his character in his position could not say this timidly. Macbeth would certainly not, however, stand tall in the middle of the stage and confidently shout out his plans to the audience; he would want to keep some sort of secrecy. He would possibly be sitting in his throne, alone, pondering over the situation. This would show how immediately after the coronation Macbeth wants this loose end tied up. The lighting would be brighter than usual and Macbeth would be saying his lines slowly but deliberately as if he was deep in thought and they were revealing themselves to him as he spoke. Shakespeare has used many descriptive images and metaphors to communicate how Macbeth's wife gradually changes his character from innocent, mighty warrior, whose greatest honour it was to serve the king with his life through to nervous wreck whose judgements were changed and moulded to suit his wife's needs and finally to sneaky, conniving murderer and tyrant king, who has to take the life of one he once respected to achieve the power he wanted but the character of those he hated. Macbeth has got all he wanted in terms of supremacy but when it comes down to it, has his life really improved? Perhaps this is the biggest irony of all. ...read more.

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