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How does Shakespeare make the audience feel about Macbeth?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare make the audience feel about Macbeth? "Macbeth" is a tragic play in which Macbeth's ambition to be king becomes his tragic flaw, however with his high status people still respect him, this is why Macbeth is a tragic hero. The play starts with thunder, lightning and the three witches. This leads you with no doubt about what the plot of the story is to involve the forces of good and evil. When the witches chant, "Fair is foul and foul is fair" you know that it is going to be difficult to tell the difference between good and evil. In the next scene King Duncan is being informed of what a good soldier Macbeth is, with phrases like, "O valiant cousin" and "Noble Macbeth". Macbeth is a very violent person when he is on the battlefield as he has killed so many people that the skulls could form a mountain. During all of this praise for Macbeth, the audience is left wondering why three such evil people as the witches were plotting to meet Macbeth at the very beginning of the play. The first words we hear from Macbeth are spoken in scene three, and just like King Duncan's are very significant, "So foul and fair a day" similar words to those of the witches in the first scene, again making you wonder about the connections between Macbeth and the Witches. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth worries that his ambition may be stronger than his ability to achieve it. He tells his wife he will not murder Duncan because he has given him "New honours" and wants to enjoy the "Golden" opinion of everyone. At this point the audience "warms" to Macbeth, but Lady Macbeth who accuses him of being a coward soon destroys this. She has seen her husband as King, and is determined it shall happen. Macbeth's earlier decision not to kill Duncan crumbles under the scornful attack of his wife, especially when she calls him a coward. Macbeth is not as honourable as the audience was led to believe. When his wife finally persuades Macbeth the audience can not believe he is so evil as he has been so brave in his life so far and loyal to his king. Perhaps the three witches are influencing him with temptation? He is a man of action confused when he loses his sense of right and wrong. Confirmed by Macbeth's terrible feeling of guilt after he has murdered Duncan and he expresses his wish to be able to turn the clocks back "Wake Duncan with thy knoking", "I would thou couldst". The audience then doesn't know how to feel about Macbeth when he admits to liking the guards, who of course would have said that they hadn't liked the King. He was destroying any possible evidence against him. ...read more.

Conclusion

This comment is ironic because the next person to die is his voice, Lady Macbeth. To a certain extent it is true that she dies because of his actions and in a literal sense she murders herself. Meanwhile the army of Malcolm sets off from England to overthrow Macbeth with Macduff swearing to avenge the murder of his family. The table is laid for a final confrontation between the forces of good and evil. Macbeth has stopped looking forward and looks back to the past with regret and thinks about what could have been. The great tragedy of the play is the loss of the kind man of Macbeth could have been, and almost was, but for the contradictions in his character and his fatal mistake of giving in to his ambition. Our interpretation of Macbeth's character in the twenty first century will inevitably be different than the view of a seventeenth century audience. The main difference being importance of good and evil plus their superstitions. They also lived in a much harder environment, fighting among rival groups/countries was expected as the normal. Loyalties was much more important than it is today, it could be a matter of life or death as reflected in the play. The majority of the audience would have been illiterate and therefore Shakespeare used a lot of symbolism. Dark being evil, light being good. The moral of the play is that people are doomed to disaster when they let their ambitions overcome their sense of what is right. Karl Jackson ...read more.

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