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

How does Shakespeare present Macbeths character before the murder of Duncan?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does Shakespeare present Macbeth's character before the murder of Duncan? 'The Tragedy of Macbeth', goes against many stereotypical images of what is good and what is bad for the present time of 1604. At this time, the public were superstitious and lived in fear of witchcraft while a new monarch, King James, had come to the throne. Macbeth's character has to overcome many psychological barriers before the murder, which keeps the audience guessing about his motives. The first scene sees a successful use of atmospherically chosen setting in a meeting of three witches. The scene is said to commence in a, 'desert place'; this inexplicably informs the reader of the social acceptability of the witches. The audience might gather that the witches are in exile and are forced to live in remote locations. This would make the viewer think of the reasons for this. In 1604, suspected witches were burnt alive, so Shakespeare has reflected the current viewpoint of the supernatural in Macbeth. This would settle the audience into the play, as they would find it easy to follow the discrimination against witches. Furthermore, Shakespeare uses pathetic fallacy to identify the evilness of the witches. The weather is described as, 'thunder and lightning'; this gives an image of the witches. Thunder and lighting is a frightening weather condition. Therefore this sets the tone for the witches' role in the play as evil and scary characters. ...read more.

Middle

Additionally, Macbeth thinks the idea of murdering the king is, 'fantastical'. This is the first time we can that Macbeth thinks about the murder however, this thought develops into a struggle against corruption inside himself which lasts for the whole of act one. Shakespeare uses this rationalisation of the witches' quote to keep the readers speculating as to whether Macbeth is good or bad; this is successful as the questioning borders on the line between ambition and greed. Furthermore, Shakespeare plays on Macbeth's new-found ambition with enhanced soliloquy in scene four. When Macbeth discovers Malcolm is to become prince of Cumberland, he identifies him as an obstacle that he must, 'fall down, or else o'erleap'. This displays Macbeth's dark side to the audience, as the corruptness is already allowing him to scheme about whom needs to be disposed of, in order to get the throne. The audience may also be disturbed by the certainty of the quotation. The fact that Macbeth has only gave himself the two options of killing Malcolm or being killed in the process, signifies that Macbeth's mind is beyond repairable, as it is so corrupt. The audience is forced to accept that Macbeth's positive character is turning power hungry and as a result, start to dislike him. In 1604, the gap between the rich and poor was extremely large, so the poor original audience's brave warrior may become in their view, a pompous man of status. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the use of an aggressive metaphor from Lady Macbeth enforces a negative portrayal of Macbeth. This occurs when Lady Macbeth states that when talking about, 'a babe that milks me', she would have, 'pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums'. This reminds the reader of the previous scene when she was begging for the gods to un-sex her, as she is showing some masculine emotions. Seemingly throwing her feminine maternal tendencies away, she states that she would kill the baby if she had swore to do so. Although a modern audience may not be so shocked by the metaphors, a 1604 audience would be horrified at the thought of a woman, especially one of high status, talking so fiercely graphical. Macbeth's mind changes again after this metaphor and decides to kill the king. This results in the audience thinking of Macbeth as cold hearted once again. In conclusion, Shakespeare has cleverly kept the outcome from the audience by using Macbeth's timid nature. I believe that the audience had a glimpse of both hope and goodness at the start of scene seven although, Macbeth suddenly changed his mind at the question of his manhood from his wife. Generally, Macbeth is a good character but psychologically weak, this weakness leads him to change his mind when confronted by his wife. However, I think Lady Macbeth is only accountable for part of Macbeth's viscous path as his soliloquy shows us that he was also contemplating and plotting the deadly events. Robert Ankcorn ...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 present Lady Macbeth's character and how does it change during the ...

    Towards the end of Lady Macbeth's 1st soliloquy, she is so ambitious for her husband she even thinks of murdering the present king Duncan, just to secure that the throne goes to Macbeth. It is from this point in the play that Lady Macbeth's character changes from being strong, clever and loving to being strong, evil, and corrupt.

  2. How does Shakespeare Present the Supernatural in Macbeth?

    From this scene that Macbeth creates he has upset the order of the banquet forcing Lady Macbeth to act and order the Lords to leave. This is unnatural behaviour in the ways of kingship as the King is supposed to dismiss his guests not the Queen.

  1. Macbeth: How does Shakespeare dramatise the murder of Duncan in Act II Scenes (i) ...

    Macbeth refers to 'the innocent sleep' (Act 2, Scene 2, Line 39) which is a recurring theme throughout the play, he refers to himself in the third person saying 'Macbeth does murder sleep' (Act 2, Scene 2, Line 39) and then talks about his different roles 'Glamis hath murder'd sleep,

  2. Discuss how Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth and how her character develops during the play

    Now, is when the audience begins to see the cracks in Lady Macbeth's composure and they recognise her conflict of emotions. However, when Macbeth returns from the murder she closes over these doubts in order to support Macbeth who is in shock.

  1. What impression do the audience get of Lady Macbeth's Character at the end of ...

    Lady Macbeth knows that Macbeth is a soldier and isn't as devious as her, so she advises him of how to act. 'bear welcome on your eye, Your hand, your tongue; look like th' innocent flower, but be the serpent under't' Here she tells him that they are going to

  2. Lady Macbeth's Character in Macbeth.

    He is tempted - "Your children shall be Kings" but temptation is not guilt. When Ross tells him he has been made Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth asks, "why do you dress me in borrowed robes?" Does this suggest that, at this stage, he wants no honours that are not rightfully his?

  1. Does Shakespeare present Lady Macbeth as good or evil?

    Lady Macbeth then goes on to instantly plan the death of the gracious king Duncan and call on the evil spirits to assist her in her murderous plans as soon as she hears of the witches' predictions for her husband.

  2. How does Shakespeare use language and dramatic devices to present Macbeths changing character?

    The fact she persuades Macbeth to commit this deed shows her as very persuasive, immoral and having no conscience. Before we even meet Macbeth, we get a sneak preview of how his character acts and is perceived by others. The first scene features the 3 witches meeting to plan the

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