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How effective is act one of ‘Macbeth’ in engaging and maintaining the audience interest?

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Sarah Doyle Macbeth How effective is act one of 'Macbeth' in engaging and maintaining the audience interest? In Shakespearean times, theatre and plays were extremely popular forms of entertainment as they were, for many, the only real social events visited. In fact, they were one of the only forms of entertainment available to the masses. 'Macbeth' was particularly entertaining to a Shakespearean audience because of the historical and social context of the play. It is apparently about the Scottish ancestor of King James, who was called Banquo, Macbeth's closest friend and fellow soldier. It was a sincere form of political flattery to the king as Banquo is portrayed as the hero, the one who does not give in to evil. Also, the inclusion of witches would fascinate audiences of the time, as they were extremely interested in witchcraft. Even today, their incorporation provides sustainable excitement for the audience, as they are so unusual. Combined, the performance about witches, battle, murderous plots and political flattery leads to an explosively stimulating and enticing play, of which act one provides an effective opening. The opening scene is immediately engaging. It is set in a 'Desolate Place' and there is thunder and lightening. This gives a sense of danger and unease and the audience wonder what is going to happen. ...read more.


Macbeth has now fallen victim to the witches and has been taken in by their prophecies. 'Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor: The greatest is behind...' They have put the thought into his head that he will be king. He also begins to think of Murdering Duncan in order to achieve this. He says that the '...horrid image doth unfix my hair And make my seated heart knock at my ribs... My thought, whose murder is yet fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man...' He is shocked even at his own thoughts and the audience can see that the witches have already affected him. The audience is interested to see what Macbeth will do. At this point, no one knows Macbeth's true thoughts, and when Banquo asks what he is thinking about, he tells his first lie. '...My dull brain was wrought With things forgotten...' He says that he is trying to remember something, but we the audience know his true thoughts. Our image of the honourable Macbeth is beginning to crumble. We start scene four with yet another change of setting. We discover that Duncan is quite a weak and gullible king, who is much too credulous. When talking about the Thane of Cawdor (Who had been plotting against him) ...read more.


Macbeth's response is: 'If we should fail?' At this point we know that she has won. She reassures her husband by telling him the details of her plan. The weak husband and strong dominant wife are very entertaining to watch. This final scene sets the audience up ready for murder and brings tension and suspense to a high point. At this point they are enthralled in the play, wanting to know what will happen next. I find the opening act very entertaining throughout, and feel that it is extremely effective as a beginning to the play. There are a number of ways in which Shakespeare ensures that his audience is still interested. One of which is the quick setting changes. He also has the almost reversed masculine and feminine roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, which is very entertaining. The theme of the play is constantly echoed. There are constant mentions of 'fair is foul, and foul is fair' right through to the end of the act. This is the most interesting factor of the play, as we see that people are not who we expect them to be. The final rhyming couplet of the act re-iterates the theme, thus proving what we suspect about Macbeth's character and preparing us for murder. 'Away, and mock the time with fairest show, False face must hide what the false heart doth know.' ...read more.

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