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Discuss the effectiveness of the R.S.C's portrayal of the murder of Duncan in 'Macbeth'. In your answer you should evaluate Shakespeare's methods and intentions in the original text The effectiveness of the R.S.C's performance

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Introduction

English Coursework Assignment Discuss the effectiveness of the R.S.C's portrayal of the murder of Duncan in 'Macbeth'. In your answer you should evaluate * Shakespeare's methods and intentions in the original text * The effectiveness of the R.S.C's performance The scene in which King Duncan is murdered is one of the most important in the play. It is the climax of Lady Macbeth's goading of her husband and Macbeth's eventual decision to go ahead with the heinous crime of regicide. In this scene, the murder of Duncan takes place and the audience sees how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both react to the murder through their soliloquies and exchanges in a room adjacent to the King's bedchamber. The R.S.C version of 'Macbeth' is very close to the original text and effectively realises the play. To discuss how effective the R.S.C's portrayal of the murder of Duncan is, close evaluation of Shakespeare's intentions and methods for the original text and evaluation of the R.S.C's actual performance of the scene is needed. Shakespeare has several main intentions for the original text. The most obvious of his intentions is to stage the murder itself and shock the audience. Another main intention in this scene is to develop various themes. Shakespeare intends to develop three themes: appearance and reality; good and evil; and ambition. Shakespeare's final main intention is to develop the characters of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. While developing their individual characters, Shakespeare also wants to highlight a stark contrast between the two. Shakespeare used different methods to achieve all of his intentions in the original text. He makes a deliberate choice not to have the murder acted out on stage for the audience to see. The murder of Duncan could have been overacted on stage and would not succeed in shocking the audience. It also ensures that the audience's attention is focused on the complex characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth instead of the act of murder. ...read more.

Middle

while Lady Macbeth tries to disregard events ('A little water clears us of this deed.') While her husband stands in a state of dread, Lady Macbeth has to make sure that everything else goes to plan so that they are not found out, despite Macbeth's botched attempt. Throughout the scene, Lady Macbeth is the dominant character. Although tense at times, she is calm, organised and supportive of her husband. She is still presented as a callous and malignant character. In contrast, Macbeth is shocked and regretful. His mistakes almost cause them to be found out. He relies on Lady Macbeth to rectify his bungled attempt and needs her to be his advocate. In this scene, Shakespeare intended to develop themes of the play. The extreme gesture of regicide manages to consolidate three themes: good and evil; appearance and reality; and ambition. The theme of evil is highlighted because Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have undertaken to kill their King for their own interests. Both characters are equally guilty for the murder and the blood on both their hands is symbolic of this. On this occasion the forces of evil overcome the forces of good, as the virtuous, benevolent King of Scotland is murdered by his own 'loyal' subjects. The murder itself also develops the theme of appearance and reality. Before the murder, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth had to try their best to appear loyal and unthreatening to their King. After the murder, at the end of the scene, the couple has to conceal the grim reality of their evil thoughts and deeds by appearing to others as 'watchers'. Finally, the murder of Duncan advances the theme of ambition. Regicide shows to what extent Macbeth and Lady Macbeth will go to achieve their ambition - to obtain the crown. After the murder has been committed, Macbeth repeatedly refers to his own appellations, which shows he recognises his own ambition and he is obsessed with his titles. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is introspective and his fixed gazed suggests he is not listening to Lady Macbeth. Finally, Dench has to drag McKellan off the stage in the crook of her arm. Her hands are too bloody to touch him, McKellan's hands are also covered in blood; this symbolises their complicity. Theme development was already identified as one of Shakespeare's intentions for the text. Did the R.S.C version succeed in developing the themes previously mentioned? I think the R.S.C. succeeded mostly in developing the theme of evil. The darkness of the set and costume, the ominous atmosphere, character portrayal and blood all explicate the theme of evil effectively. The theme of appearance and reality is dealt with more subtly. At the end of the scene, Dench appears to be saying something that should be dismissive and collected ('A little water clears...'). In reality, the strident and insincere tone of her voice suggests that she is not convince by what she says. Lastly the theme of ambition is dealt with throughout the scene because we see all the trauma the characters go through to achieve their aim. In my opinion, the R.S.C's performance of the scene is excellent and would be difficult to fault. The original text was followed closely and the dark, minimalist setting was probably how Shakespeare intended it to be in his day. Dench successfully interpreted her role as Lady Macbeth, presenting her as a dominant, evil character but also manages to show her as being fearful and vulnerable. McKellan also competently interpreted his role as Macbeth. He portrayed Macbeth as being weak, in complete shock and on the verge of going mad. The murder of Duncan is a pivotal point in the play and for the R.S.C, it was essential that they effectively realised the scene. I identified Shakespeare's intentions for this scene and the methods that he used. I then discussed how well the video version managed to realise these and how good their actual performance was. I have now concluded that that the R.S.C have made an excellent attempt at effectively portraying the murder of Duncan in 'Macbeth'. ...read more.

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