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In what ways does Shakespeare make the murder of King Duncans so deeply dramatic?

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English GCSE Coursework on 'Macbeth' In what ways does Shakespeare make the murder of King Duncan so deeply dramatic? 'Macbeth' is a very powerful, dramatic play and Shakespeare uses many methods to achieve this drama. The murder of King Duncan is particularly dramatic, but although the actual murder does not take place until Act 2 Scene 2, Shakespeare starts building up the atmosphere long before then. In fact, the mood is set in the very first scene, which is extremely dramatic. It is a short scene with 3 witches who create a very mysterious, supernatural atmosphere for the audience. At the time when Shakespeare was writing, people were very interested in the supernatural, so this would have made the opening scene all the more dramatic for the audience and would have been an indication for them of evil to come. Furthermore the weather is bad; there is thunder and lightning, and the witches talk in riddles, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair..." (I/I/11). This really sets a very tense, eerie atmosphere. Shakespeare uses Act 1 Scene 2 to establish Macbeth as an extremely valiant, brave warrior, who wins the battle almost single-handedly, "...brave Macbeth..." (I/II/16). This sets Macbeth up for a great fall when he kills King Duncan, because the audience first think of him as a great man, but then their attitudes towards him must change dramatically. This scene is also ironic, because Macbeth does not hesitate to kill a man for his country, "...he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps..."(I/II/22), but when it comes to murdering King Duncan, he finds it very difficult. ...read more.


They talk about killing the King and Lady Macbeth takes control of the situation. It is almost like the roles are reversed between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, so this is more deception. There is a reference to a raven in this scene, "The raven..." (I/IV/39), and the raven was a bird often associated with death. It was thought that the raven appeared when someone was going to die. This reference may have been a prelude to a murder and the audience may have recognized this. This would have created drama and anticipation. In Act 1 Scene 6, Lady Macbeth acts like a perfect hostess, being polite and welcoming to King Duncan. However, the audience knows that she is being deceitful as she is plotting to kill the man and this creates tension. Another ironic point in this scene, is the fact that Duncan speaks of Macbeth so highly. "...we love him highly..." (I/VI/29). This is ironic because we know that Macbeth intends to kill King Duncan. In Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth has a chance to think about killing the King. This scene is very dramatic, because the audience do not yet know for sure if Macbeth is going to kill King Duncan or not. It is a very much a 'will he' or 'wont't he' situation. Macbeth decides he is not going to kill the King, "We will proceed no further in this business..." (I/VII/32), until he informs his wife of his decision. ...read more.


I think the fact that you just see the way Macbeth and his wife react to it, is a very clever technique used by Shakespeare. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth talk to each other using very short sentences. This creates tension too. It is also quite a scary scene. The only noises are those made by owls and crickets, "I heard the owls scream and the crickets cry." (II/II/16). And Macbeth has reacted badly and is behaving in a crazy manner. He claims he can hear voices announcing Macbeth's evil deed. "Still it cried,'Sleep no more!'" (II/II/42). After the murder of King Duncan, the drama related to it continues. It is almost as if the world order is disrupted. There are earthquakes, an eclipse, and the animal kingdom is messed up. "Duncan's horses...'tis said they ate each other." (II/IV/19) The idea of horses eating each other seems ludicrous, but this is the supernatural aspect of the play. The consequences of Duncan's murder are also dramatic. Macbeth's life is ruined. He orders more and more people to be killed. And he becomes under the influence of witchcraft. He becomes an evil man who cannot sleep and is haunted by his evil deeds. Macbeth is eventually killed by Macduff in battle. This is a direct consequence ofhs own evil deed. This is true drama. In conclusion, Shakespeare use many methods to make the murder of King Duncan so deeply dramatic. He uses the supernatural and witchcraft extremely effectively, and uses powerful imagery and dramatic irony. I feel that the play would have been much more powerful to the Shakespearean audience, although it is still a hugely dramatic tragedy. Faizal Patel 5K 10/09/01 - 1 - ...read more.

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