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EXAMINE THE USES OF NATURAL IMAGERY IN ACT 3 AND ACT 4 OF MACBETH. HOW DOES SHAKESPEARE'S USE OF NATURAL IMAGERY SUPPORT THE MAIN THEMES OF THE PLAY?

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Introduction

EXAMINE THE USES OF NATURAL IMAGERY IN ACT 3 AND ACT 4 OF MACBETH. HOW DOES SHAKESPEARE'S USE OF NATURAL IMAGERY SUPPORT THE MAIN THEMES OF THE PLAY? Shakespeare was a playwright and dramatist, born in 1564. He wrote nine plays based around England's royal families and used as his source Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. Macbeth was a real person: a Scottish aristocrat and the son of a wealthy family who ruled vast parts of Scotland. Macbeth's father was murdered and, in the end, he married the granddaughter of the High King. As in Shakespeare's play the Macbeth's were childless. At the time this play was written, James I of England (James VI of Scotland) was on the throne. During this period of British History for a play to be staged a playwright had to have received the Lord Chamberlain's approval. Shakespeare, therefore, wrote this play to impress King James and included many features that would appeal to him. James I claimed to be a descendant of Banquo and thus Shakespeare included this character in his play. James I also believed in witchcraft and claimed to have met the three witches on a journey and wrote a book called "Demonology". Shakespeare, therefore, included in his play references to witches and "demonology". Macbeth was written in 1606, a time of bloodiness and violence, treason, treachery and deceit. Many plots were also aimed directly at the royal family, one of which was the "Gunpowder Plot", which had occurred a year previously. ...read more.

Middle

Another night time animal is used in; "ere the bat hath flown/His cloister'd flight." The bat is a nocturnal animal and at that time (the 17th century) would have been considered evil and related to witchcraft. At the banquet the ghost of Banquo appears and Macbeth becomes obsessed with the amount of blood the murdered body of Banquo produced. Shakespeare uses imagery to set contrasts between life and death and the conflict between the two, whilst at the same time showing us the state of Macbeth's mind and his descent into insanity with the lines "It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood:/ Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;/ Augurs and understood relations have/By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth/The secret'st man of blood. What is the night?" During the 17th century it was still not clear if witches and the supernatural were real and the examples above show Shakespeare's use of imagery to play upon the audience's fear of the unknown. They illustrate the fact that Macbeth is truly malevolent; he is awake during the night a time when the supernatural and evil was thought to occur and is being associated with animals who were at the time thought to be evil or related to witchcraft. In Act 4 Macbeth seeks out the witches again and decides to murder Macduff's family. Macduff has left Scotland to seek help from the English King against Macbeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

This sickness and evilness show that Macbeth has become unnatural. Shakespeare uses Macbeth's insomnia to illustrate how unnatural Macbeth has become. Sleep is a natural restorative, as Macbeth is suffering from insomnia, this shows again that Macbeth is unnatural. Natural imagery as stated above includes love and loyalty, with the unnatural being treason and betrayal Macbeth envies the dead King Duncan and wishes that he could sleep the sleep of the dead "sleep/In the affliction of these terrible dreams .. better to be with the dead". Shakespeare uses the night in the play to carry out all Macbeth's evil deeds. The imagery of the night is used to convey evil and unnatural creatures that at the time were associated with witchcraft, such as owls and bats. Family and children are used as a form of natural imagery in the play, we know that Macbeth and his wife have no children which is unnatural, whilst, King Duncan, Banquo and Lord Macduff all have families which is natural. In conclusion Shakespeare's use of imagery supports the main themes of the play enabling the audience to understand the characters better and to see the differences between good and evil, sickness and health. It also allows the audience to understand how it is possible to start out as a good person but to end up totally evil as in the case of Macbeth. Imagery also allows Shakespeare to use the play to voice his own thoughts on the political situation of the day. Francesca Tate 11H English Coursework ...read more.

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