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

"Macbeth" (or "The Scottish Play")

Extracts from this document...


GCSE Macbeth Assignment Shakespeare wrote "Macbeth" around 1606. This was a very violent time for the newly recognised British Isles. Just three years earlier, after nearly half a century in power, Queen Elizabeth I had died. She was succeeded by James I (or James VI of Scotland). James was of Scottish heritage and his style of rule was very different to that of Elizabeth who had been strong and imposing character. It would seem that James was a weaker monarch and in 1605, just two years after being crowned, there was a plot to destroy the houses of parliament, a symbol of his power. This is famously known as the Gunpowder Plot and is still commemorated every year on the 5th of November. Most agree that Shakespeare wrote "Macbeth" (or "The Scottish Play") to comment on the underlying mood of the time. He sets his play in Scotland to try and win favour with King James and furthermore, makes the subject matter that of assassination and regicide ending in overall failure, to try and warn other possible plotters against the king. King James was renowned for his fascination and hatred of witches and during his reign tens of thousands of "witches" were killed. Shakespeare thus makes all the carnage and murder in the play the result of the witches' prophecies. Our first impression of Macbeth is a very good one. In only the second scene, before we even meet Macbeth, we hear him referred to as "brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name." Again, before Macbeth is even introduced to us, King Duncan remarks (with regard to Macbeth and Banquo) "they smack of honour both." Although we are also told that Macbeth's sword was "smoked with bloody execution" this is most definitely seen as a positive attribute and not as grounds for worry for the other characters. It could however, be a hint from Shakespeare that things are not completely as they seem. ...read more.


It that shows that he has not managed to calm down. Shakespeare usually wrote in iambic pentameters and these short one-word questions distort the flow of this pattern and are meant to indicate the paranoia and nervousness of Macbeth and his wife. Macbeth must have been extremely perturbed when he was in the room with Duncan. He says "this is a sorry sight," whilst he is looking at his hands. This indicates that the killing was messy and later, Macbeth describes them as "hangman's hands." This could mean that Macbeth is disgusted and sorrowful for committing such a disgraceful crime and that he is showing signs of remorse. He continues to use euphemisms, such as "deed" to block out and forget the murder as much as he can. Shakespeare tries to give the audience the impression that Macbeth is sorry for his actions and not a cold-blooded person. Shakespeare also gives Macbeth another human element whereby he has him looking down at his hands, something that many people can identify with. Macbeth then goes on to talk about the "deed." He mentions that when the two grooms were in the room with Duncan one cried, "Murder!" As Macbeth has refrained from using this tabooed word throughout the passage he must be very unstable to finally use it. Shakespeare also uses an exclamation mark which is meant to startle the audience and create suspense with a short pause. The short pause here is in start contrast to Macbeths other words which are written to be spoken very quickly. This is to give the audience the idea that Macbeth wants to forget his experience and get it off his chest as quickly as possible. A good example is when Macbeth is again talking about the two grooms, "That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them; but they did say their prayers, and addressed them again to sleep". ...read more.


When Macbeth accepts Macduff's challenge, even though he knows the end is near, the valiant and honourable side of his character shines through again. Macduff calls Macbeth a "coward" and tells him to "yield." Possibly in one final maniac act of desperation he accepts the challenge and does not yield. He says that he cannot be dishonoured, "to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet." This is very clever as it uses distinct imagery that is easy to relate to. He goes on to say "I will not yield... to be baited with the rabble's curse", saying that if he yields even common people will tease him. He goes forth to battle with Macduff and is killed. Shakespeare's Macbeth is on of the classic tragic figures in literary history. He personifies a man's corruption as a result of power. From our initial view of him, as what can only be described as a hero, we see him fall into an abyss of mental instability and eventually insanity. Shakespeare investigates many ideas such as, things not being as they seem, feminine influence and the overall result of regicide. He uses many cleverly crafted semantic fields such as clothes ("why do you dress me in borrow'd robes") and a man's face ("There's daggers in men's smiles"). These all work as clever imagery to further entice the audience. Apart from being a tragic hero, Macbeth is also one of the most complicated of all of Shakespeare's characters. He goes through almost every emotion that we have a word for, and his feelings always contradict. First we think he is a fearless warrior, and then we see him bullied by his heartless wife. This serves a superb dramatic purpose for Shakespeare as the audience are never sure what to think or what to expect next. The conclude, the play "Macbeth" is undoubtedly one of Shakespeare's greatest masterpieces and is a timeless piece of theatre - with its core, being the dramatic enigma that it the character, Macbeth. ...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. Discuss how Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth and how her character develops during the play

    It is important to have Lady Macbeth die in this fashion because it emphasises how far she has fallen, it would also benefit to an Elizabethan audience's sense of justice.

  2. Lady Macbeth's Character in Macbeth.

    horrid image doth unfix my hair...whose murder is yet but fantastical," which should surprise the audience, as so far they have only seen Macbeth to be a loyal subject of the king. Even though he follows this with the flipside to the argument "Chance may crown me, without my stirring," the audience will not redeem him for the earlier thought.

  1. 'Macbeth' gives us a classic example of the literary definition of a 'tragic hero'. ...

    He is now afraid of no man, not even Macduff, and regards the third prophecy as ludicrous. He is confident in his belief that the first and last prophecies will not come true. After the witches' departure, Macbeth becomes extraordinarily cruel, single-minded, dismissive and verbally aggressive.

  2. What is the Significance of the Witches in Macbeth?

    This shows the audience how far Macbeth has come throughout the play. Macbeth seems to be very confident around the witches "call 'em, let me see 'em" however we know that he is in a false sense of security, as the witches are going to betray him.

  1. Analyse the Macbeth's marriage during the play, and explain why and how it changed

    Macbeth now knows that he will regret his deeds for the rest of his life. We are shown this when he says- "Will all great Neptune's oceans wash this blood Clean from my hand? No, this hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red."

  2. The play 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare is possibly one of the most influential plays ...

    One Witch says 'Upon the heath.' The other witch replies 'There to meet Macbeth'. A few scenes later the witches meet Macbeth upon the heath. This perceptiveness is another device to show the witches as supernatural. The witches appear in two of the opening three scenes of the play.

  1. Macbeth was first performed in 1606 in front of King James I at Hampton ...

    Macbeth feels jealous because Duncan is dead and now he does not have to deal with the difficulties of life where nothing can harm him. However, Macbeth has to deal with "terrible dreams" that were guaranteed by the voices he heard when he killed Duncan.

  2. Is Macbeth a cold blooded murderer or

    In Act 1 scene 5, Macbeth writes a letter to Lady Macbeth and tells her everything. He tells her about the title Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth also tells his wife about the witches and the prophecy. They are very close and they tell each other everything.

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