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Consider how Act 1 of Macbeth prepares the audience for the rest of the play.

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ENGLISH COURSEWORK CLAIRE PLUMPTON MACBETH * Consider how Act 1 of Macbeth prepares the audience for the rest of the play. The opening scene of Macbeth starts with the three witches, chanting, thus creating a supernatural and eerie atmosphere, with "thunder, lightning and rain... fog and filthy air". This prepares us for the sinister atmosphere present throughout the entire play. The witches also cryptically talk about "when the hurly-burly's done", which means "when the deed is done", and "when the battle's lost and won". These are clues as to what will happen later on in the play, things which the audience don't yet know about. The "deed", could be one of many later happenings, such as the witches prophecies to Macbeth, the rise of Macbeth to the throne, the murder of King Duncan, or perhaps the assassination of Banquo, or maybe the slaughter of Macduff's wife and children, or even the eventual execution of Macbeth. The "battle" points towards many future happenings, and themes that run throughout the play, such as the constant fight between good and evil, both in peoples' minds and on the battlefields. ...read more.


This idea of Macbeth being under a spell will make the murderous acts that happen later in the play seem less inhuman, and make the reader perhaps pity Macbeth more. As Macbeth weighs the moral implications of the witches predictions, he is already thinking of bad things, like murder, preparing us for the ruthless killing of king Duncan, and others, to achieve what he desires. But thankfully, at this stage, Macbeths' conscience prevents him from acting on these thoughts. The audience is prepared for the battle between good and evil in Macbeths' mind, as they are already seeing the beginnings of this conflict. Macbeth knows that if the witches prophesies are true then he needn't act upon them, but still cannot get the idea of murder out of his mind, showing the audience the weakness of the good part of his mind, against the evil part, preparing us for the evil within him, winning the battle, against good. Macbeth then lies to Banquo about his thoughts, telling him that, "if chance will have me king, why chance may crown me without my stir". He is actually thinking about all the horrible things that he could do to make himself king, rather than just letting fate take its course, showing the audience his deceptive nature, preparing them for the lies that he later tells. ...read more.


She even refers to their battlements as her own, saying "The...entrance of Duncan under my battlements" In scene seven, Macbeth is soliloquising, struggling with his conscience's guilty thoughts about killing Duncan, and how it will result in vengeance. He thinks of many reasons why he should not do it, but his "vaulting ambition" spurs him on. When Macbeth tells his wife that he does not want to do the "deed", she mocks him, reminding him of how brave a soldier he is meant to be, attacking his manliness, and asking him if he is a coward, or whether his hope has been forgotten, Macbeths' conscience does not fight Lady Macbeths' controlling hold over him, and he accepts that he must do the task. This shows the weakness of Macbeths' good side, and the plague of his guilty conscience, which will be antagonistic in future scenes. Although Lady Macbeth is presented as an evil person, she does have guilty feelings about what they are doing, as does Macbeth. The fact that they are feeling guilty about what they are doing makes it easier for us to sympathise with them at the end of the play. This sympathy is crucial to our sense of the play being a tragedy. ...read more.

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