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How Does Shakespeare Incorporate Literary Traditions Into Macbeth?

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Introduction

How Does Shakespeare Incorporate Literary Traditions Into Macbeth? In the play Macbeth Shakespeare uses a wide range of literary traditions frequently: For example, ideas of tragic form are used, with aspects of both Senecan and Aristotlean concepts. The play consists of five acts, a traditional number, following the rise and fall of the tragic hero Macbeth. Elizabethan language conventions are followed, with numerous examples of rhyming couplets, imagery, personification, metaphors and similes used to project settings and aspects of characters. Macbeth follows the ideas of both Senecan and Aristotlean tragedies, using their concepts of how a tragedy should be set out and how it should flow. The play has five acts that separate the play out into the stages of the rise and fall of Macbeth, the central character. The first act explains his rise to the position of thane of Cawdor and the beginnings of the witches influence over him. The second act follows his position to its highest point; it firstly sees the death of Duncan, an act carried out by Macbeth, greatly influenced at this point by the witches. ...read more.

Middle

This difference is demonstrated well by the porter who opens the doors of the castle on the night of Duncan's murder. He speaks in prose and rambles on, as he is merely a servant of Macbeth's with little or no social status. Macbeth however as he is the central character in the play and a lord or Thane of high social status speaks almost entirely in rhyming verse. Iambic pentameters are used in the play to avoid monotony as they give rhythm to a sentence and stress the more important words in it. An example of this is "I have thee not and yet I see thee still" (2,1,35) which is said by Macbeth as he sees the dagger before him but cannot touch it. In this sentence the more important words are obviously emphasized as shown by the underlining. Rhyming couplets are part of another literary tradition and are also used to give a natural and obvious conclusion to a speech, this property was used by Shakespeare as a cue for other actors as it could easily be remembered and recognised by them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Imagery is used vividly to describe the murdered Duncan and after the murder of Banquo Macbeth says to one of his murderers: "There's blood upon thy face"(3.4.12). This shows that the murder must have been particularly violent, as blood has sprayed onto the face of the murderer. Metaphors and similes are also used frequently in the play to demonstrate the deception that is used by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. This intended deception is shown by: "Your hand your tongue: look like th'innocent hower but be the serpent under't." This sentence shows that the intention of Macbeth is to look innocent and pleasant on the surface in order to deceive someone into a false sense of security in order to get rid of them by murdering them. Throughout Macbeth Shakespeare has used a number of different literary traditions, which enhance the dramatic effect of the play for the modern day audience, and to include popular traditional values for the audience for whom it was intended. ...read more.

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