• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare create tension in Act One Scene One to Act One Scene Four of 'Macbeth'?

Extracts from this document...


How does Shakespeare create tension in Act One Scene One to Act One Scene Four of 'Macbeth'? At the very beginning of 'Macbeth', we are introduced to the three witches, they mention meeting Macbeth on the heath. This opening scene is short and quick but has a massive impact on the audience; it leaves a lot of questions unanswered, who is Macbeth? Who are these witches? How do they know Macbeth? Why do they need to meet Macbeth? These questions convince members of the audience to stay as they want to find out what the answers to these questions are. Shakespeare uses this scene to set the pace of the rest of the play, the witches enter and exit quickly as if blown by the storm, representing the way in which the characters get pushed in different directions beyond their control throughout the rest of the play. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair," this is one of the main themes of the play, and helps create tension in that everything that happens in the play relates, one way or another, to this chant. ...read more.


Macbeth had already been given the title of Thane of Glamis and, although he didn't know it, Thane of Cawdor, Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to great effect in this scene, the audience know that Macbeth is Thane of Cawdor, but Macbeth and Banquo do not. They also had no idea that the thane of Cawdor had been sentenced to death, "The Thane of Cawdor lives," and Macbeth asks the witches and even demands them to tell him more, but the witches vanish. He is told by the witches that he would become King of Scotland, "All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter." But he denies that this could be true. Hearing this from the witches, Banquo demands to know his own future, he is told that his descendants will become kings, but he himself will not. Ross and Angus enter the stage to give Macbeth the news that he is Thane of Cawdor and that the previous Thane of Cawdor had been sentenced to death. ...read more.


Further on in this scene, Macbeth declares his loyalty to Duncan, this is another example of dramatic tension, where the audience and Macbeth know of his plans but Duncan, Banquo and the other characters do not. Duncan goes on to say that Malcolm will proceed to claim the throne, this angers Macbeth and the audience is able to see this but Duncan isn't. Macbeth talks aside, to the audience, and talks about how he is confident that Duncan doesn't know about his plans, "Stars, hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires, The eye wink at the hand." The audience at this point will want Duncan to discover Macbeth's plans and not fall into the trap, the audience believes that Macbeth is under the witches command and he himself had become evil. This statement by Macbeth strongly contrasts with his earlier statement about being loyal to Duncan, and creates tremendous tension between these two characters. Shakespeare uses this tension brilliantly throughout the play and the introduction of Lady Macbeth in act one scene five has a grave impact on Macbeth and his actions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in these scenes?

    The repetition of blood in his language does seem to portray him as a blood thirsty character, which certainly links with earlier scenes, such as 'The Battle', where Macbeth was referred to as a "valour's minion", "his brandished steel smoked with bloody execution..."

  2. Macbeth Act 2, Scene 1~2, How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in these scenes?

    Macbeth personifies murder~ "withered murder". The modifier creates yet another image of witches, haglike and deformed. The word also has connotations of decay and corpses, which could fit in with the murderous aspect of Macbeth. Furthermore, another part of the lexical set of evil is "Tarquin's ravishing strides", which suggests that at this point Macbeth starts walking to Duncan's chamber.

  1. How does William Shakespeare build up tension during Macbeth in Act two, Scene one ...

    These scenes also show symbols of evil by Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare uses what his characters say to make tension as he makes them lie and the audience know "Macbeth" is lying. The audience will know that the murder will take place so this will add to the tension because the audience know what Macbeth is thinking.

  2. Director’s Notes For Act Three, Scene Four Of Macbeth

    Lady Macbeth is seated on her thrown and appears happy and preoccupied with the feast. When Macbeth, who is still standing gets to line eleven a door opens at the side and the music stops, for the first time heavy rain and thunder are heard.

  1. Describe how Shakespeare create dramatic tension in this scene. Refer closely to the text ...

    The third witch says "All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king here after" this is not true and it will leave Macbeth wondering what is going on and forces him to commit regcide. Macbeth says " Into the air; and what seem'd corporal melted as breath into the wind "

  2. Macbeth Act One

    Witches were the objects of morbid and fevered fascination during this era. The Jacobeans were afraid and superstitious. They suspected that the Witches were credited with powers and could predict the future, fly, cause fogs and tempests, bring on night in daytime, kill animals and curse people, with fatal diseases as well as induce nightmares.

  1. Why do you think that Act three scene four, the Banquet scene, grips an ...

    needs to make a good impression so that he appears to be worthy of the throne, despite the fact he knows and we know that he isn't. Macbeth says that he will "play the humble host." This is a pun to the audience, to the guests it appears he is

  2. Macbeth - Comparison between Act one Scene five and Act five Scene one.

    get lady Macbeths backing for his bid to become king seeing as she is probably more ruthless and ambitious than Macbeth himself. There are many themes that run through the play, these themes or images include Darkness which is shown in Act one scene five lines 49-50 'Come thick night, and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell!'

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work