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How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension for his audience?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension for his audience? Shakespeare�s play 'Macbeth� is set in the heart of Scotland. The king at the time is king Duncun, a noble and honest king. He has two sons and many Thanes and noble men, one being Macbeth. Macbeth has fought his way up the ranks of the army to become one of Duncun�s most trusted Lords, but an encounter with three witches puts wickedness into the heart of an otherwise noble and loyal man. In act 1, scene 1, a scene of three witches confronts us. This alone would have created mystery and fright to the audience, setting the scene of the play to come. 'Macbeth� was written in a period when there was a high interest in witchcraft and the supernatural. People were confused and scared by the supernatural, so the sight of three witches would have told the audience that the play would be full of evil and lies. This scene is a short opening to the play. It is long enough to awaken curiosity, but not to satisfy it. The mood of the play is set, although the action and the introduction of the leading characters do not start until the next scene. In act 1, scene 2, we learn about the tough battle which Macbeth and Banquo have fought, and win for the victory for Scotland. ...read more.

Middle

James I himself was greatly interested in witchcraft, he had written a book about them called 'Demonology�. The witches, again in this scene, would have created a feeling of evil and terror. The audience would think that the witches� prophecies may all become true but would all have an evil, twisted outcome. It was thought that witches were purely evil and so could not predict anything of happiness. In act 1, scene 4, Macbeth praises the king aloud but the audience knows that Macbeth has had visions of regicide. Duncun, then, names Malcolm, his son, as the successor to the throne. When Macbeth hears this he says to himself that this is another obstacle in his path to the throne, "...that is a step on which I must fall down, or else o�er leap". This scene creates quite a lot of tension between the audience and Macbeth by using dramatic irony. We know that Macbeth has evil in mind and that his ideas are now becoming more serious but he is still quite scared of the evil thoughts he is having. Act 1, scene 5, introduces us to Lady Macbeth, Macbeth�s faithful wife. We gather from the letter that Macbeth sends Lady Macbeth that they keep no secrets from each other. He addresses her as, "...dearest partner of greatness..." ...read more.

Conclusion

The speech builds up to a mighty climax and then suddenly the power fails, and all Macbeth can think of as a motive for this treacherous murder is his own vaulting ambition and even now he realises that too high a leap can only lead to a fall. "Vaulting ambition, which o�er-leaps itself And falls on the other." Shakespeare uses this scene to provides the audience with a 'will he? Won�t he?� situation so increasing tension. When Lady Macbeth enters Macbeth tells her that he has made up his mind and that they will, "We will proceed no further in this business". He is not prepared for her fury. She calls him a coward and insults his masculinity, "When you durst do it, then you were a man". Defeated by his wife and persuaded by her encouragement, Macbeth agrees to murder his king. This scene creates tension by the indecision of Macbeth Act 2, scene 1, introduces us to Banquo and Fleance, his son. The witches have also disturbed Banquo for he calls for his sword will crossing Macbeth�s courtyard after hearing a noise. Macbeth also shows signs of stress for he replies very little to Banquo and when he is alone the strain clearly shows. When Macbeth hallucinates, seeing a dagger, "a dagger of the mind, a false creation", He is first alarmed but later seems to enjoy the horror. ...read more.

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