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How does Shakespeare create an atmosphere of evil and disorder in Act 1 of Macbeth?

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How does Shakespeare introduce a world of disorder and evil in Act 1 of the play Macbeth? Shakespeare is renowned worldwide as one of the greatest playwrights that ever lived, and is known for many of his wonderful techniques. However one of the best things about his play Macbeth is the wonderful sense of atmosphere obtained throughout. He does this both in very subtle ways that one may not notice when first watching or reading Macbeth, and in more obvious ways that are clear to all. In act 1 scene 1 we are first introduced to the witches, they are the first people we meet and would have received a strong reaction from an Elizabethan audience. The witches are situated in a battlefield, so already a sense of conflict and unrest is being created. There is a storm raging throughout this scene, which carries through the idea of conflict but this time in nature and indicates that these witches have this effect on the world and create strong disorder. Already we are led to believe that the witches are associated with Macbeth, we know this as the third witch says "There to meet with Macbeth". We don't yet know who Macbeth is but from this introduction an audience might assume he is of bad character to be associating with such outcasts. According to their description the witches look like hags and are deeply unnatural, both to look at, and in the way they affect the their surroundings. ...read more.


Of course this is the obvious choice to anyone else but it is not what Macbeth was expecting. It comes as a surprise to Macbeth as the witches foretold to him that he would be king. This meant that Macbeth assumed he would be Duncan's successor. Macbeth has already got evil thoughts creeping at his conscience by now and sparks what is to be a really quite tragic chain of events. Further proof of how Macbeth is starting to contemplate terrible things like crimes against the divine right of Kings is when he says, " Stars hide your fires" meaning whatever awful things he plans to carry out, he wants the darkness to be his shield. There are several references throughout the play to this simile of light symbolising all that is good, and dark being a hiding place for evil. This means that our darker characters such as Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and even the witches often refer to it. So already in the first act, the struggle between good and evil in Macbeth's rampant mind means cracks are starting to appear in his character. So Macbeth's desire for power is causing him to contemplate awful things against the social order; questioning the great chain of being and the divine right of kings. Where as a striking contrast King Duncan, who has been portrayed as a good character throughout, says, "Signs of nobleness like stars shine on all deservers" this basically means good people get their rewards. ...read more.


Duncan shows his appreciation for her kindness and hospitality and we are left thinking 'if only he knew.' Scene 7 is another scene with just Lady Macbeth and Macbeth in. Macbeth is saying to his wife he doesn't think he can do it, that Duncan is too trusting and it would be wrong. He tells her he simply wont do it, but of course Lady Macbeth persuades him. She insults him by saying he is not acting like a man and is a coward. He tries to 'calm' her by saying if he did it then that would make him not a man. She goes on to say that she would do it and then displays violent imagery and says "How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn As you have done to this" this is a really horrible picture, and she is using this all to prove her point that she would do anything she had given her word to. This is another example of her unnaturalness and lack of maternity. She tells Macbeth to be brave and do it, and that if he does it right none ever needs to know. And there it ends, and one again Lady Macbeth has got her way. She is quite clever and you can tell she is not satisfied with the system, that she wants a higher status, and that until then she will need to be like the puppet master of the puppet that is Macbeth. Emily O'Dell 10S ...read more.

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