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Explore the portrayal of Macbeth within act 1 of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth commenting on how the audience respond to him.

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Introduction

Explore the portrayal of Macbeth within act 1 of Shakespeare's play Macbeth commenting on how the audience respond to him. The task that I have been set is to explore the portrayal of Macbeth within Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth' commenting on how the audience responds to him. To fully understand the nature of Macbeth you have to understand the times in which Shakespeare wrote the play. Macbeth was written in 1606, late into Shakespeare's life, at was a time of great political and social unrest. There was a vast conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants and in 1603 the Queen of England, Elizabeth 1st the first had died, unmarried and with no children. She was a Protestant. James I took over England as King, but he was also the King of Scotland, so this did not make him very popular with the English. We know this because some English Catholics tried to blow him up in what is now known as 'the Gunpowder plot'. James was also not very popular with witches, as he was a great witch hunter and burner. The story of Macbeth is closely linked with this real life situation and it was very brave of Shakespeare to write a play so closely linked to the real Monarchy in times like they were. Shakespeare wanted the people to think about Kingship, the qualities of a good king, the responsibilities of power and loyalty and friendship. ...read more.

Middle

Duncan has also honoured him before. Duncan says "Thou art so far before, that swiftest wing of recompense is slow to overtake thee; would thou hadst less deserv'd, that the proportion both of thanks and payment might have been mine! Only I have left to say, more is thy due than more than all can pay", this really makes Macbeth believe that Duncan will name him. Then Duncan names his son, Malcolm, heir and then to add insult to injury he tells Macbeth that his reward is to be the host for the party. Macbeth's innermost feelings come out for the audience to hear. He feels angry about not being chosen as heir to the throne. He says "The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step on which I must fall down or else o'er-leap, for in my way it lies", he thinks he must somehow get past the step of becoming heir or just forget about becoming king altogether. In scene 5 we are introduced to Lady Macbeth who is reading Macbeth's letter to her. Macbeth is excited and wants to tell her about what the witches have said. She knows that Macbeth will not have quite enough ambition to go through with killing either Duncan or Malcolm, she says"... Yet do I fear thy nature; it is too full o' the milk of human kindness". She is the one that wants him to become King; she wants to influence him. ...read more.

Conclusion

This Act also introduces many of the important characters in the play, the audience gets to see what they are like, and how they think. This is especially apparent with Macbeth. You, as the audience, see how Shakespeare has portrayed Macbeth and how he has changed in the act. This act implants some of the key themes into your mind. These key themes are evil, reflected through the witches and Macbeth's thoughts and ambition which drives Macbeth for a short while but then he realises this is his only reason for killing his King, Duncan. Power is another theme. This is what Lady Macbeth really wants. Macbeth himself seems to be content with what he has. You get to see Macbeth's strength as a warrior and his weaknesses as a thinker, you see his flaws. The audience also gets to see the themes of deceit and manipulation in practice with Macbeth deceiving Duncan and Lady Macbeth manipulating Macbeth. As the audience you get to see the political framework and you get to know which people like or dislike others. As the audience you experience a lot of feeling in this act, you feel sorry for Macbeth having to live with the dominant Lady Macbeth, you desperately don't want Macbeth to give into her and to stand up for himself but he doesn't. In the end though you are anxious to get to the next Act to find out whether they pull off the murder of Duncan or not and to see the consequences of its actions of this flawed individual. ...read more.

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