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How did Shakespeare appeal to his audience, both in the 17th century, and in the modern era?

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Introduction

How did Shakespeare appeal to his audience, both in the 17th century, and in the modern era? Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, created a big impact when it was written and first performed and it is still popular and well known. So why do so many people still enjoy it? What did Shakespeare do to capture his audience so well? Act 1, Scene 3 is the scene in which the witches meet again. One tells a detailed story about a sailor whom she is planning to torture. This shows the audience how mean the witches can be so the audience isn't true how trustworthy they are. Soon after, the witches meet with Banquo and Macbeth and they tell them both prophecies; calling Macbeth Thane of Glamis (which he already is), Thane of Cawdor, and they say that he "shalt be king hereafter" (line 58). At the end of the scene, Ross and Angus come to inform Macbeth that he is thane of Cawdor. It is once they've left that he realises that one of the witch's prophecies has come true so he starts to wonder about the second one. Act 5 is the last act of the play and in scene 5; there are two main events. Firstly, he is told by Seyton, a messenger, that his wife is dead. After this, Macbeth has a soliloquy. Then, straight away, a messenger hurries in and tells Macbeth that Birnam Woods are advancing. This is a turning point in the play because at this point, Macbeth recalls the witches' prophecy, which said that he was not die until Birnam Woods advanced. The scene ends with Macbeth ordering to ring alarms. ...read more.

Middle

This section could also be a metaphor because he is comparing life to a play. He reminds the audience that the play is just an unreal story by saying that it's just a story "told by an idiot". It may be that Shakespeare is calling himself an idiot but I think this is highly unlikely. I think, on the other hand, that Macbeth is calling the author (Shakespeare) an idiot because Macbeth's part in the play is not nice (he turns out to be the tragic hero). Moreover, by saying that an actor plays his character "and then is heard no more", Macbeth hints at the end of the story at which he dies. Also, he is near the end of his acting and will probably be seen no more. He is emphasizing this point; perhaps to let people remember him once the play is over. It seems as though Shakespeare wrote this as Macbeth's true moments, by himself, on stage as the hero. Macbeth's evocative soliloquy, which shows his soft side, contrasts his really rude manner later. For example, in line 34, he shouts "liar and slave". Then he quickly becomes less scary as he starts doubting himself and he even tells the messenger that he has the permission to hand Macbeth onto "a tree till he dies of hunger". These sudden changes in moods and politeness show that Macbeth has confused emotions. Equivocation and Evil are the two main themes in Act 1, Scene 3. Equivocation is also the main theme throughout the play. In scene 3, the witches all talk in riddle. This is unclear and therefore a form of equivocation because if the witches told the complete truth, the plot would have been completely different. ...read more.

Conclusion

The chestnut story in Act 1, Scene 3 shows the audience just how evil the witches are. This makes the audience feel happy because they have just been proved right about their thoughts about witches. Moreover, during Shakespeare's time, loyalty to the king was one of the most important things. Therefore, Macbeth's thoughts (line 33) were extremely bad. It would have shocked the audience. This is also one of the main reasons that Duncan's death is offstage. It would have offended the King if he were shown dieing on stage. In Act 5, Scene 5, it is especially surprising that Macbeth tells the messenger that he is allowed to hang him alive from a tree and let him die of hunger because during the 17th century, social status was very important and the King's status would have been considered to be much greater than a messenger's. The fact that Macbeth told the messenger that he could treat him the same, means that Macbeth is bringing his status right down much lower than a King would normally be; to the level of the messenger. In society at that time, this would be extremely different to what everyone was used to so this event would have a huge impact on the audience. In my opinion, the unreality of the play is the main reason that Shakespeare managed to appeal to his audience both in the 17th century and in the modern era. The plot obviously had more social significance in the 17th century and was therefore probably more effective then but the plot isn't the most important part whereas the emotions our. As our emotions haven't changed, the play can still be enjoyed now and the modern audience can still understand, and be affected by the evocative speeches and scenes. Cami Rothe Form: 10PE Teacher: A. Partington Coursework: Pre 1914 Drama / Shakespeare ...read more.

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