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Explain how the power shifts from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth in the early stages of the play.

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Introduction

Explain how the power shifts from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth in the early stages of the play The play Macbeth was performed at Hampton Court in 1606 or 1607 to King James I (1566-1625). Macbeth was essentially a play for James I. In 1605 a group of Catholic men tried to blow up Parliament and the King in what has became known as the 'Gunpowder Plot'. This failed to succeed and the leader, Guy Fawkes, along with the rest of the plotters was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. Their heads were then placed on stakes around London as a warning to others wishing to kill the King. It is likely that Shakespeare wrote this play firstly to please James and secondly to reiterate that warning. The play would have pleased James as he believed in the 'Divine right of Kings', which was the idea that Kings were chosen by God, and that killing a King was much worse than an ordinary murder, an idea Shakespeare uses throughout the play. James also believed that he had been given special healing powers, the same as Edward the Confessor-Edward in the play. These powers were only something special Kings were meant to have. There is a passage in the play about these powers, (Act 4, Scene 3) which is not necessary to the play, but is most likely to flatter James. Shakespeare's audiences would have believed in God and the Devil and thought that Heaven and Hell were real places. They would have also believed that good men could be turned bad and their downfall caused by witches, another idea Shakespeare uses often. Witches were only ever women, which stems from the idea in the Bible that in the Garden of Eden it was Eve's fault that Adam ate the apple. She was the one that tempted him to, and it was her fault they were expelled from there by God. ...read more.

Middle

If I were directing a production of Macbeth, for Lady Macbeth's first speech I would have her standing just left of the centre of the stage in a white dress. A white spotlight - to give the impression of good, kind, pure Lady Macbeth, would light her. She would be reading Macbeth's letter in a kind voice, but when she talks of her will for power her voice would become more threatening, which would make the attendant step back from her in fear. The scene would be of a rich person's room, maybe a bedroom, library or study, somewhere quiet. There would be gold and furs all over the room. This would all be well lit. When she starts her second speech, the lights should be slowly dimming, going darker. Lady Macbeth would move to centre stage, shown in a deep red light. There would be smoke on the stage, covering her up to her waist. When she calls for the spirits, all the other lights would go out and only the light on Lady Macbeth would stay on. She would lift up her hands and her head when she offers herself to the spirits. While she is calling for them the smoke would increase more and more, until she is covered by it. Then all the lights would go out. When time has been given for all of the smoke to clear, she would have changed to a black dress and appear more withdrawn. She would be sitting on a chair that would have been left on stage all the time, but not lit. Lady Macbeth would be trying to act as if nothing has happened, but would be unable to hide the fact. Macbeth would look at her strangely. He would be wondering how and why she has become so forceful, evil and deceitful. A white light, to show innocence compared to Lady Macbeth, would light Macbeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is evident by the way he has found it extremely hard to commit the murder, he still tries to be how he used to be. Lady Macbeth, however, feels that this shows he is weak so bullies him into not thinking how he is used to. Lady Macbeth does not start his downfall. The witches do that by sparking off Macbeth's ambition. She does, however, push and push him to get him to do as she wants and the only way to do that is to wear him down so much that he is too demoralised and upset to argue. This is a thing that she is really good at and she uses it a lot to acquire the power she needs which, with a woman like her, is all she can get. The witches are ultimately the power holders in the play. They have the power to make or break Macbeth and they chose the latter. In conclusion, I consider that Lady Macbeth and the three witches have had equal parts to play in Macbeth's downfall. The witches start him off by starting his ambition, but they do not force him into killing or grind him down. That is where Lady Macbeth comes in. She, however evil she may already be, fills herself with more evil making her easily the most evil and twisted person in the play. She is the one who forces him to kill and grinds him down. It could be said, however, that the witches could have entered Lady Macbeth as the spirits, so they could be fully responsible or they could have known that, by meddling with Macbeth's ambition, they would have caused Lady Macbeth's ambition to also be sparked off. It is hard to say who is fully responsible, as both groups of women have been responsible, but in different ways. What is definite though is that all through the early stages of this play the old Biblical Idea that women were are the ones responsible for the downfall and temptation of men has shone through. Glen Tooke Macbeth Essay 1 ...read more.

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