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How Does Shakespeare Use His Secondary Characters In Macbeth?

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How Does Shakespeare Use His Secondary Characters In Macbeth? Every character in a play or story is used in a different way; however we naturally concentrate on the main characters, the hero or villain. If possible the secondary characters have a much bigger role when it comes to what they're used for, because they not only carry the plot but they influence the audience making them feel what the playwright intended. Not only do the secondary characters influence feelings but they also, move plot lines, clarify information and sometimes just purely entertain. Influencing the audience to feel what you want is an amazing power in the hands of playwright; using characters to build up sympathy or hatred are the most common emotion played on. The Macduff's in Act 4 Scene 2, are the best evidence for this in Macbeth, their death, short yet significant sways the audience to hate Macbeth but somehow builds up more sympathy for him. There's one line that hits more than any other "He has kill'd me, mother / Run away, I pray you!" hearing this line from a young boy would have made the audience's stomachs turned. However a feeling of catharsis is given from this scene, the death of a young child, of a woman (shown as pregnant in Conall Morrison's version) some members of the audience maybe even most would have taken pleasure from it. The theory of Catharsis is an audience, watching a murder or other crime gets to experience the rush it brings, but without ever having to do it. ...read more.


We meet the captain in Act 1 Scene 2; he is covered in blood and once Saved Malcolm in battle. He tells the tale of the "broil" explaining how "brave Macbeth--well he deserves that name--""unseam'd" the traitor Macdonwald, "from the nave to the chaps". This is followed by rearing applauds from the surrounding noble men, building up the image of Macbeth before the audience even sees him; making him already important and having the audience begin to make their own personal Macbeth in their heads. He speaks of the battle and how bravely Macbeth came to the rescue just has Macdonwald and the Norwegian king Sweno had gained reinforcements, he simply "carved out his passage" until he faced Sweno and killed him. Another character used to fill in the plot is Seyton, simply an armourer by profession and a servant of Macbeth. However he brings what might be the most important information given in the play, the death of Lady Macbeth. A cry sounds through the castle scaring not only the characters but the audience; Seyton runs to find out what's happened and returns with the news "The queen, my lord, is dead." this of course leaves the audience wondering what's going to happen next, the queen was his source of power can he win without her? This is the first time we see that Macbeth is truly human, he mourns the death of his beloved wife "Life's but a walking shadow" he says, personifying death expressing it in ways the audience may not understand but defiantly pick up on his sorrow. ...read more.


It would frighten the audience a lot more if signs of the occult were used, possibly have young women each standing on a point of a triquetra because in this time people are scared of the un-known. Also at the time the play would have been seen, the thought of Macbeth killing his king would have terrified more than the witches as very recently they had had the gun power plot. So the memory of guy folks' attempt on the kings life would have been fresh in their heads and to watch Macbeth take the life of his king would naturally have made them intrigued maybe even have the feeling of catharsis. I believe that secondary characters are in most cases more important than the main ones, without secondary characters you would have to sit though a 6hr long play in which there'd be total confusion. However there is a downfall to secondary characters, in every version I have seen they have hidden behind horrible Scottish accents. It is of course "the Scottish play" but a fake Scottish accent shows the audience the uncertainty you have in the role, if the actor understands his role and can perform it well the accent is simply not needed. With it being a play and not a book or film, the secondary characters must be congratulated on their self control during soliloquies as these characters are not the centre of attention but somehow are always noticed. There are many more ways in which secondary characters can be used however the ones named are the most popular in this play, and they are the ones the audience sees most. ...read more.

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