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Explore the dramatic impact on a Jacobean audience of Act 1 Scene 5 of Shakespeare's "Macbeth", referring to the play as a whole as appropriate

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Introduction

Explore the dramatic impact on a Jacobean audience of Act 1 Scene 5 of Shakespeare's "Macbeth", referring to the play as a whole as appropriate In this essay I will be examining how Act 1 Scene 5 of "Macbeth" would have had a dramatic impact on a Jacobean audience. I will also be exploring how Shakespeare's stagecraft - his use of devices such as symbolism, references to contemporary events and imagery - would have helped to create this dramatic impact. Macbeth was written to be performed - on a stage, by actors, and to an audience. In Jacobean England, drama was considered to be the greatest art form, and was appreciated by many classes of people, from King James downwards, so these audiences would have been large and varied. Shakespeare's stagecraft is such that it would have been understood by the whole audience - though many themes were linked to the particular interests of King James, they would have been understood by all, as would all the imagery and symbolism in the play. Act 1 Scene 5 begins with Lady Macbeth reading the second half of a letter she has received from Macbeth. Starting the scene with the second half of the letter helps with continuity in the play and between the scenes, and also means that the audience will not have to hear Lady Macbeth read information that they already know. The part of the letter that is read reveals much information about Lady Macbeth and Macbeth's relationship. ...read more.

Middle

Also, after he has killed Duncan, later in the play, he is unable to say 'Amen', which was seen by Jacobeans as a sign of being possessed. In the scene, Lady Macbeth uses a lot of symbolism and imagery. All of it would have been understood by a Jacobean audience, as they would all have been superstitious. A lot of the imagery in the scene is linked to darkness and evil. References to darkness were particularly important as the play would have been seen in mid-afternoon, so any night-time or darkness in the play would have had to be represented by what the actors said. It was also a link to evil, an important theme of the play. This means that Shakespeare often makes actors refer to darkness. When Lady Macbeth says 'Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark' her words signify both darkness and evil, as heaven and good will be blocked out. Animal symbolism is also used a lot in the scene and in the play, because it was important to Jacobeans. Different animals were seen to symbolise different things. Shakespeare uses this as another technique to keep the audience's attention and interest. Two examples of this in Act 1 Scene 5 are when Lady Macbeth says 'The raven himself is hoarse', and when she is speaking to Macbeth and tells him to 'Look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under't.' The serpent was seen to be a symbol of evil and treachery, due to its part in Genesis in the Bible. ...read more.

Conclusion

Antithesis - the juxtaposition of opposites - is one of the most important themes in 'Macbeth'. It comprises order and disorder, good and evil, appearance and reality, and darkness and light, all of which are important themes in their own right. It creates contrast in the play, and this use of antithesis would have been very important in keeping the interest of and entertaining a Jacobean audience. Shakespeare's use of language helps to emphasise all these themes. In Act 1 Scene 5, soliloquy is used to let the audience know Lady Macbeth's true feelings and ambitions. Soliloquy is used throughout the play to link a character with the audience, creating tension, suspense and dramatic irony. Dramatic irony - when the audience know something that a character does not - is also very important throughout the play. In Act 1 Scene 5, when Lady Macbeth is planning to kill the King, the audience knows that the King will be staying at her castle that night, but she does not, and is shocked when she is told - 'Thou'rt mad to say it.' In my opinion, Shakespeare effectively creates dramatic impact in Act 1 Scene 5 of Macbeth. I think that this impact would have been particularly pronounced on a contemporary Jacobean audience. Shakespeare uses a wide range of techniques, all of which are used successfully. The scene, and the play, would have appealed to and interested all of a Jacobean audience, from the King downwards, because of these techniques and the dramatic impact they create. ...read more.

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