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Examine carefully the ways in which Shakespeare presents the murder of Duncan to the audience. How does this scene differ from others in the play and how does it affect the audiences' feelings towards Macbeth?

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Introduction

Examine carefully the ways in which Shakespeare presents the murder of Duncan to the audience. How does this scene differ from others in the play and how does it affect the audiences' feelings towards Macbeth? The murder of Duncan is the first murder committed in the play, but before it is committed the audience are given their first impressions of each character, which affect the way in which the audience feel and react to the characters actions. Within the first two scenes, the audience see Macbeth to be a good, honest man who is highly thought of by the King and who is willing to die in battle for his country. "But all's too weak, For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name)" Act 1 Scene 2, line 16 It is not until scene 3 that Macbeth's sinister character begins to reveal. When he is first told of the witches' prophecies, he fails to believe what he is being told. However when Macbeth is informed that he is to be made Thane of Cawdor he begins to believe that they may also be correct in that he is to be made the King after Duncan. His thoughts begin to reflect his greed that now he is Thane of Cawdor, he sees no reason to wait to become King, even though Duncan has not yet named his heir. From here murderous thoughts start to fill Macbeth's mind as he admits the evil inside of him. The audience at this point would be shocked that Macbeth is contemplating killing Duncan after he has been so good to him, rewarding him with Thane of Cawdor. ...read more.

Middle

The use of emotional blackmail by Lady Macbeth shows her evil nature and is blinded by power and greed. Macbeth retaliates by claiming that he shall not be a real man if he insists on killing an old man in cold blood. However, Lady Macbeth still insists on using more emotional blackmail, telling of how she would rather dash out the brains of a baby than go back on her word. There is only one argument left for Macbeth, and that is by enquiring what would happen if they fail, but Lady Macbeth insists that they will not fail. From here, Lady Macbeth informs Macbeth of the plan she has prepared, telling of how she shall get the guards drunk, so that their memory "Shall be a fume" and so when Macbeth kills Duncan he shall be unguarded. Macbeth begins to warm to the plan, to which the audience would be horrified. Banquo is used as a contrast to Macbeth's character soon after Macbeth has decided that he shall kill the king. Banquo would never betray his king, unlike Macbeth. The dagger scene shows the effect of the plan to kill Duncan on his mind. Macbeth hallucinates that a dagger, with the handle facing towards him, appears before him. The dagger moves towards Duncan's room as if to show him what to do, and as the dagger is covered in blood, this also is a sign of what he must do. The power of evil is working his mind now and he is not completely in control of himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lady Macbeth is genuinely horrified to hear of the death of Lady Macduff. Later one in the play it can be seen that the murder of Duncan has a psychological effect on her mind. She begins to sleepwalk and whilst doing so she appears to be attempting to wash blood from her hands. This would represent Duncan's blood as she tries to rid her conscience of guilt. At the same time it would appear that she is being told to confess her sins. Shakespeare uses the doctor and the gentlewoman to direct the audience's reactions and feelings towards Lady Macbeth. The audience would take pity on Lady Macbeth. "What is it she does now? Look how she rubs herhands." (Doctor) Act 5 Scene 1, line 23 "It is an accustomed action with her, to seem thus washing her hands" (Gentlewoman) Act 5 Scene 1, line 24 The supernatural plays a major part in 'Macbeth'. At the time 'Macbeth' was written, people believed in many aspects of the supernatural. King James believed strongly in witchcraft. The apparitions and the prophecies were the main use of supernatural in 'Macbeth'. The apparitions were who were believed to blame for the hallucination of the dagger. The murder of Banquo also features many aspects of the supernatural. The ghost of Banquo appears at Macbeth's banquet. In Elizabethan times, ghosts were used to represent two things - revenge and betrayal. Shakespeare makes use of both of these with the murder of Duncan. Banquo's ghost appearing shows the guilt that Macbeth feels, as it is on his obviously on his mind. Lady Macbeth believing that it is Duncan's ghost shows her guilt of the murder of Duncan. ...read more.

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