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Consider the ways Shakespeare creates an atmosphere of evil in Act 1 of the play, paying particular attention to the witches and their influence upon Macbeth.

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Introduction

Consider the ways Shakespeare creates an atmosphere of evil in Act 1 of the play, paying particular attention to the witches and their influence upon Macbeth. The play I have been studying is Macbeth by William Shakespeare. It tells the story of a Scottish thane who rises to the thrown of Scotland by committing terrible murders. He follows the prophecies of three supernatural sisters (the witches) and becomes the king of Scotland, and his reign is full of tyranny and deceit. His wife Lady Macbeth plays a big role in his rise to power by constantly being prepared to be the more ruthless of the two, but she eventual goes mad from the pressure of the several murders and kills herself. Macbeth's eventually downfall comes when he begins to completely trust the witches, which in the end has dire consequences. William Shakespeare wrote this play in 1606 for the entertainment of King James ? who at the time was the king of England, but had also been the king of Scotland. In the essay I will be looking to examine how Shakespeare creates an atmosphere of evil by analysing his use of paradoxical language, the use of settings, his use of familiars, dramatic irony, soliloquies and oxymorons to do so. Paradoxical language is used in the play, which contradicts what the character is saying. ...read more.

Middle

I come, Graymalkin. Paddock calls. Anon. (Act1 scene I lines9-11) Shakespeare uses this so that we can instantly identify that they are witches, by using their familiars in this context. The witches are saying, "I am coming my cat" and "my toad calls. I am coming". The use of this method would instantly show us that the people involved were witches, and were evil. His audience would have recognised this and so it creates a sinister mood. His use of dramatic irony later in the play adds to the sinister and evil mood that Shakespeare portrays, because it gives us an insight into the characters and how they behave and react. We first observe it with Duncan when he talks about trust. There's no art To find the mind's construction in the face. (Act1 scene IV lines 11-12) This creates dramatic irony because of what Lady Macbeth reveals later. Bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue; look like th'innocent flower, But be the serpent under't. (Act1 scene V lines 63-65) and False face must hide what the heart doth know (Act1 scene VII line 82) There is a sense of irony because King Duncan says you cannot tell what is in a man mind from his face, and Lady Macbeth demands that Macbeth should put up a show so that his minds true motives are not revealed. ...read more.

Conclusion

He used paradoxical language to confuse the audience and to make them believe that the witches were perhaps casting spells with their chants , rhyming and riddles. His use of the familiars is included so that we can instantly identify that the three weird sisters are witches, and this sets the mood of the play, which surrounds witch craft. His use of setting helps us see the environment that these weird sisters inhabit and also see the places were the characters live, which are harsh hostile environments, where it is difficult to survive. Dramatic irony makes the audience feel more involved because we seem to know what is already going to happen while most characters don't, so this adds to the tension and drama because we feel involved. Soliloquies help us understand individual characters better, and we get to know their deepest and darkest desires, which lets us see them in their true light, warts and all. The audience feels as if they know the character intimately and so when we discover their evil plans we feel shocked.. I also believe that Shakespeare uses the theme of darkness to convey evil. Most of the play is set during nightfall, and we can see that the main characters yearn for night so they can commit their murder. In conclusion by the techniques stated above Shakespeare created a strong atmosphere of evil, and prepared the audience for the unfolding saga, and horrifying sequence of events that proceeded in the remainder of the play. 1 Ntami Egbe ...read more.

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