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How does Shakespeare create a sense of evil and disorder in Act 1 of Macbeth?

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How does Shakespeare create a sense of evil and disorder in Act 1 of Macbeth? In this essay, I aim to effectively analyse how Shakespeare manages to create a sense of evil and disorder in Act 1 of Macbeth. Macbeth is a play set in Scotland, and the whole play is about a regicide and its aftermath. The play begins with a sinister scene featuring the infamous three witches. This immediately creates a sense of unease and disorder about the scene, as the audience is captivated by the unnaturalness, and the uncanniness. It is interesting to notice how the play seems to start with the end of a conversation, which adds to the sense of mystery and evil. Also, in the second line of the play there is the mention of thunder and lightning, giving this idea of conflict in the natural world and in the sky. A factor that also contributes to the sense of evil is the setting, as it is set on a heath, which is away from society. At the time it was written, in the Jacobean period, witches were seen as evil and demonic. It was believed that they were given powers by the Devil, and in return, they allowed him to drink their blood. IF you were thought to be a witch, you were examined for the "Devil's mark", which was a red mark which would suggest that Satan had sucked their blood. In 1604, King James declared that anyone found guilty of witchcraft should be executed. ...read more.


Firstly, they called him the Thane of Glamis, which he already knew to be true. Secondly, they called him Thane of Cawdor, which puzzled him, as he believed there already was a Thane of Cawdor. However, thirdly they called him "Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter." This really puzzled Macbeth, but likewise intrigued him. We can tell he is interested, as Banquo describes him as "rapt" which is very interesting, as it encourages the reader to believe Macbeth has a connection to the supernatural world, furthermore adding to the sense of evil and disorder. Throughout the rest of the scene, we can see how Macbeth's thoughts about what the witches said are weighing on, and poisoning his mind. On lines 138 and 139, he says, "My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes my single state of man." He is explaining that although killing Duncan would be amazing, the thought of doing it makes him feel sick and they paralyse his body because the thoughts are so evil. The last thing he says in this soliloquy on line 141 is, "nothing is, but what is not." This means that his becoming King is the only thing he cares about, however the way he uses complex language and negatives in conjunction makes the audience uncertain. This is very effective, as it shows how his emotional state of mind also effects how he talks, and phrases sentences. The whole soliloquy is key to the plot of the story, as it shows us how Macbeth's mind is beginning to change into this evil ridden one, nevertheless, we can still see how he is still in two minds. ...read more.


This is quite a gruesome image, but it is effective, as it shows Lady Macbeth's passion and desire, albeit a sadistic one. Shakespeare also uses imagery effectively when creating a sense of evil and disorder. Throughout Act 1, we can see many examples of imagery, such as "...look like th'innocent flower, but be the serpent under it..." This image is said by Lady Macbeth, when advising Macbeth how to greet Duncan. It is cleverly worded, as it has echoes of the Garden of Eden, as the snake was the Devil in disguise. It also shows how Macbeth seems to be descending in terms of honour, as the once so powerful Lion is turning into the snake. Basically, Lady Macbeth is saying 'act like an innocent man, but be a murderer underneath.' It is an image of deceit, and it is quite a commanding statement, which shows Lady Macbeth's power over her husband. The image is effective, as it shows the contrast between good and evil. Act 1 is full of imagery, especially images of natural things being spoilt, such as milk, light, sleep, and motherhood etc. I think Shakespeare has done this because he wants the audience to know just how evil and disorderly the characters of the Witches and Lady Macbeth are meant to be. For example, the King is associated with light and growth, and evil is associated with darkness and destruction. The fact that he includes natural things being spoilt means the audience will understand just how evil these characters are, and how far they will go to make sure they reach their goals, which sets the scene nicely for the rest of the play. ?? ?? ?? ?? James Smith 10S ...read more.

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