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How does Shakespeare create a sense of horror in act five scene one? Comment on relation to what you already know of Lady Macbeth elsewhere in the play.

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Macbeth Act Five, Scene One How does Shakespeare create a sense of horror in act five scene one? Comment on relation to what you already know of Lady Macbeth elsewhere in the play. As we have seen earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth is strong willed, ruthless, ambitious and potentially psychopathic. In this scene we wonder whether she has lost her sense of humanity, or gone mad from guilt. Act I, scene v. gives us a glimpse into her earlier state of mind. 'Unsex me now' she cries to the spirits. This clearly indicates that she no longer even desires to be human - the very stating of which is psychopathic. I believe that this is also concerned with her feminine side- she would murder Duncan at her own hand, if it was not for her gender. Also, communing with spirits in Shakespeare's time in this aberrant fashion was frowned upon because of the far more widespread belief of God. When Lady Macbeth is seen to be communing with what appear to be spirits of this darker nature (i.e. not God's spirits), the audience might have suspected Satanic implications, perhaps even an intimation of later demonic possession. At the beginning of Act I, scene vii, Macbeth is clearly aware of the psychological implications implicit in regicide. ...read more.


And when she enters the scene, she is carrying a taper. Her, carrying a taper on stage, would emphasise the darkness around her (which she appears to be trying to escape), and make the scene seem more ominous to the audience. The darkness could be interpreted as her guilt and the madness that she is surrounded by. And the taper, a single flickering flame, which could go out at any moment, could be seen as her last grasp on sanity and life. Whilst in her somnambulant state, Lady Macbeth goes through a complex set of actions. The gentlewoman tells us: "I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her nightgown her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon't, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this in a most fast sleep." This, when written in this style gives us a sense of tension and suspense. This is because of the way it is structured- i.e. short snappy phrasing, whilst conveying to us this strange set of actions. This makes us curious at what she is doing and why, because we do not yet understand what her actions are caused by, or what she is really doing. ...read more.


This would stir the audience, since Hell was a real and vivid place, usually associated with fire, not 'murk'. Somehow 'murky' makes it more real. An Elizabethan audience believed that the afterlife continued in one of two places: Heaven or Hell. And by this stage in the play, the audience would be sure Lady Macbeth would be going to the latter. The horror is that she is beginning to understand this herself. Near the end of the scene the doctor exclaims that nothing can cure her state, and that 'all means of annoyance' should be removed from her. This would suggest that the doctor has concluded that she will possibly try to kill herself and that the gentlewoman should try to keep her from snapping completely. In this era, suicide would be a horrific thought, even more so than it is today, and would be thought of as the final push, which would put her firmly in hell. This would make the audience not only horrified, but in full of ominous thoughts. Finally, at the end of the scene the doctor says: "God, God forgive us all." In the Globe Theatre, the doctor would be watching Lady Macbeth from the edge of the stage, beside the audience. When he says this line, he may well be speaking for the audience as well as himself and the Gentlewoman, who are terrified of Lady Macbeth, but also pity her. ...read more.

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