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Consider the dramatic significance of Act 3 Scene 4, 'The Banquet Scene', with reference to the BBC 2 stage production, and Roman Polanski's film on Macbeth.

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Consider the dramatic significance of Act 3 Scene 4, 'The Banquet Scene', with reference to the BBC 2 stage production, and Roman Polanski's film on Macbeth. The scene opens with Macbeth talking to the Lords at the banquet he has thrown to celebrate his coronation. The Lords thank him for this and then Macbeth then talks about how he would, "mingle with society" rather than be a dictator. In the BBC 2 stage production, the most striking aspects at the opening are that the banquet hall is very dark and only the 'top table' is shown through the entire scene, so we really don't get the impression that it's a proper banquet as such. Also Macbeth has an extremely dominating voice and the characterisation is quite befitting of a king. he appears to be a strong leader from our first impressions. In Polanski's film, there is much more artistic licence because the film isn't faced with the restrictions that a stage production is. As such, the banquet hall is will lit and the hall is filled with guests and slaves. Also there is bear bating in a characterisation of line 100, 'Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear'. This is proof of the greater artistic licence that Polanski's version has, as they can even have live animals on set. A close up of Macbeth is used at this point showing him enjoying the scene, and this portrays the savagery of the human world. ...read more.


In Polanski's production there is a physical manifestation of the ghost in Macbeth's seat. It is a very graphic image and is meant to be disturbing; it again shows the greater artistic licence that is available to Polanski. In the BBC 2 production, the ghost is just an empty space which only Macbeth can see. This could possibly be more effective however for the viewer as he/she is forced to use their imagination to visualise the ghost and the imagination can be more powerful than a visual phenomenon. It is at this point in the film version that Macbeth drops his goblet on the floor and immediately a servant falls to his knees to clear the spillage. This shows us the power of Macbeth, and more importantly it symbolises the spilling of blood that has dominated Macbeth's rise to power. The slave wiping it up is symbolic of the way that Macbeth is able to cover up all that he has done. We see through Macbeth's shouting at the ghost of Banquo that he still has guilt and that despite the fact that he has committed the most dreadful sins, he is still human. It could be said that Banquo's ghost is a manifestation of all of Macbeth's guilt. It is because of his humanity that he has the fit. Lady Macbeth is quick to make and excuse for her husbands shouting at the ghost of Banquo ('...my lord is often thus, And hath been from his youth: pray you keep your seat'). ...read more.


Macbeth asks his wife, 'What is the night?' and his wife replies, 'Almost at odds with morning, which is which.' This stems from the opening of the play with the fair is foul and foul is fair theme. This comment about the time is very symbolic. Just as the twighlight is in the sky as they speak, and dark is 'battling' with the light of the morning, the forces of good and evil are duelling in Macbeth's head. This is shown immediately when Macbeth asks whu Macduff wasn't present at the banquet. Macbeth is now targetting his comrade. Macbeth then talks about what he will do about the vision he had. He decides that he will go and see the witches, and when he says, 'And betimes I will-to the weird sisters:', he is accepting the evil that has infiltrated him. He now thinks that it will be easier to continue with the blood shed, rather than seek redemption for the murders that he has already committed. he hints that there may be voices controlling him. Lady Macbeth's response is one of worry, ('You lack the season of all natures, sleep'). This is a homely remedy rather than one which will make any real difference. Lady Macbeth cannot understand the evil any more, and she is out of her depth. This is the start of the breakdown of their relationship. The most chilling aspect of this scene comes right at the end. Macbeth says, 'We are but young in deed', and this shows us that there may be more heinous crimes to come in the play. ...read more.

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