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'Macbeth '-GCSE Coursework

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Introduction

` Macbeth '-GCSE Coursework How does the audience's sympathy for Macbeth change during the course of the play? How might a director influence audience response? Macbeth was written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First, a period in history when people's beliefs in their world were changing. People believed strongly in the Divine Right of Kings and that Regicide was an act against God's will, making it an unforgivable sin. The worship of God was also incredibly important and people would be fined for not attending church on a Sunday and the priest would be the most important person in the village. Witchcraft was believed in and anything remotely evil would be pinned upon curses being made and spells cast. Those condemned, as witches would be punished by execution. People of those days led short brutal lives and disease was much more prevalent. The play is based in 11^th century Scotland and although it is set in medieval Britain, it explores ideas that are relevant to a society of any time. We see the ambition of one man alone whose lust for power drives him to despair and murder! He represents a figure whose craving for dominance makes him exclude all reason and pushes him to a point from which he cannot escape. At the beginning of the play we hear that Macbeth is a good, strong and honest Scottish nobleman who is greatly respected and admired in his homeland. He is seen as the keen warrior who would risk life and limb to save his country and king. He is the co-leader of the Scottish armies alongside his best friend Banquo. His reputation is increased with further victories and we learn from the start of the play that had it not been for Macbeth's spectacular leadership and fighting that the Norwegian invaders may have taken over Scotland. In Act 1 Scene 2 the captain honours Macbeth, `For brave Macbeth-well deserves that name-disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth tells Macduff in Act 2 Scene 3 and continues, `for ruin's wasteful entrance; there the murderers, steeped in the colours of their trade, their daggers unmannerly breeched with gore. Who could refrain, that had a heart to love, and in that heart courage to make's love known.' Although Macduff doesn't believe that the grooms were responsible for the death of his king he doesn't dwell around the situation or Macbeth for too long and alike Duncan's sons he flees, in this case to England. Macbeth's killing of these two innocent bodyguards shows how already he has changed to a merciless monster that will do anything to keep hold of power. Banquo like Macduff suspects Macbeth of some sort of foul play but doesn't want his new king to realize this. Banquo swears an oath to revenge Duncan. Macbeth now swamped by the riddles made by the witches decides that Banquo's sons cannot become kings after him and therefore decides that the time is right to kill off Banquo and his son Fleance. To make Banquo believe that he is in a safe position Macbeth organises a banquet to be held in his honour. He subtly finds out that Banquo is riding the same afternoon and therefore plans his murder to take place whilst on the hunt. `I wish your horses swift, and sure of foot; and so I do commend you to their backs. Farewell. Let every man be master of his time till seven at night; to make society the sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself till supper-time alone. While then, God be with you!' Macbeth tells Banquo in Act 3 Scene 1. He distances himself from the thought of how he and Banquo used to be friends together telling the `murderers' that Banquo is responsible for the death of Duncan and that he fears his own life as well. Great irritation would be felt by an audience at this point for the way that the murderers are so easily manipulated by the hurtful Macbeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

The king is then shown out of the cave in a state of shock, leaving to prepare for his last stand. Leading up to the last battle Macbeth has got to the point where he believes he is invincible though is on the verge of self destruction for nothing matters to him any longer. Macbeth dictates in Act 5 Scene 3, ` I'll fight, till from my bones my flesh be hacked. Give me my armour.' He isn't even scared of dying and decrees that life is a performance and that others only judge us from the way we act. He murdered his way to the top and defended his position to the last, aiming to withhold the power he unjustly took. We see him as a wasted life that has been corrupted by his tragic flaw, the lust for power. Slowly he's spiralled downwards from the top and all that is left for him to do is die. His speeches at this point tell of self-disgust and misery, `Here let them lie till famine and the ague eat them up. Were they forced with those that should be ours, we might have met them direful, beard to beard, and beat them backward home' and Seyton is the man who reveals Lady Macbeth's death to him. This name Seyton is related to Satan in the way that the only person that still holds trust in Macbeth is the devil himself in all his evil. However, nothing scares Macbeth for he has created the evil that he is now drowning within. Macbeth is accustomed to fear brought on by guilt and not even the scream of his falling wife horrifies him. When she is reported to have committed suicide he shakes the fact off as though he doesn't care and proclaims that she timed it badly. Macbeth implies in Act 5 Scene 5. `She should have died hereafter; there would have been a time for such a word.' However it does remind him of his own mortality and that he will also die one day. ...read more.

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