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

Macbeth - When considering the balance of moral responsibility for the death of Duncan, how do dramatic techniques help to shape and direct the audience's responses?

Extracts from this document...


When considering the balance of moral responsibility for the death of Duncan, how do dramatic techniques help to shape and direct the audience's responses? There are three parties in Macbeth who share the balance of moral responsibility for the death of Duncan. Without any one of the three, the murder of Duncan would not have taken place. We can, however, analyse how Shakespeare portrays the characters to ascertain who he wants us to perceive as ultimately responsible. It must be remembered that Macbeth is a play, not a novel. The playwright, Shakespeare, is able to portray his characters through many forms, rather than just illustrating them through words. Shakespeare is able to manipulate the audience and their views. To decide what Shakespeare wants us to feel about the true culprit, we must analyse each of the three main contributors. The first characters we are introduced to in the play are the three Witches. Now it must be remembered that Shakespeare's audience would have taken witches and evil very seriously. In the first scene we can note several aspects of them: They are connected with disorder in nature (not only thunder and lightning but also 'fog and filthy air'); they can hover; they reverse moral values ('Fair is foul, and foul is fair') ...read more.


Throughout the play, manhood is equated with the ability to kill. The imagery of the play is divided into masculine and feminine categories. Blood and royal robes are symbolic of male prowess, authority, and legitimacy, as opposed to the feminine procreative and nourishing images of babies, children and milk. Lady Macbeth informs us of her values in her first appearance. She tells us Macbeth's flaw is that he is 'too full o' th' milk of human kindness.' This contradicts the perception of Macbeth as a heartless warrior and is quite astonishing. Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare's view, should encourage this 'milky' side of her husband's character, but instead she resolves to align herself with male principles, in a passage explicitly connecting gender roles and moral values: Come you spirits That tend on moral thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe topfull Of direst cruelty!... Come to my woman's breasts, And take my milk for gall. Such an unfeeling speech is hardly intended to endear us to the character. Shakespeare wants us to understand and consider that at the time the purpose of a woman/wife was to serve her husband, look after him and guide him where she could. ...read more.


("So fair and foul a day I have not seen.") I believe Shakespeare uses these techniques to incriminate Macbeth. We are shown that he is not only a butcher, but that he is respected for being so. To make sure that we are not led to believe that this is acceptable we are shown, in a number of ways previously addressed, how Shakespeare depicts Macbeth's world to be one where morals and normality is reversed. Macbeth, in his society, is considered a hero; in ours he would be condemned as a criminal. Shakespeare has to make sure that Macbeth is viewed as a villain so that the blame for the murder of Duncan cannot be passed away from Macbeth. In conclusion, after having considered all arguments, I believe that the three weird sisters only provoke a tendency, or weakness perhaps, in Macbeth. This feeds his desire. It is implied in the storyline that, non-verbally, Macbeth invites his wife to be his partner in crime; this was not necessary if he had had no intention of doing anything about the Witches' prophecies. Lady Macbeth gives her husband the courage to do what he had a mind to do anyway. I believe Shakespeare wanted to formulate the audiences' ideas into deeming Macbeth the most guilty party. Charlie Matthews 11C *1* 1 of 1 ...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. Explore How Evil Is Represented In Macbeth and Lord of the Flies analyse the ...

    Their bodies from throat to ankle, were hidden by black cloaks which bore a long silver cross on the left breast and each neck was finished off with a hambone frill.' (The Lord of the Flies- chapter 1- pg26) These boys are a choir and are led by Jack who is the head of the choir.

  2. How is Macbeth persuaded to kill Duncan: Is his wife entirely to blame?

    them that he "neither beg nor fear your favours nor you hate." Banquo has no reason to believe in them, and nor does Macbeth. However, it is made clear to the audience that Macbeth is not incredulous about their information, especially when he begs or orders (depending on how the line is played)

  1. How is Macbeth persuaded to kill Duncan: Is his wife entirely to blame?

    This questioning of the witches also shows that he is doubtful of their authenticity. The witches immediately intrigue Macbeth and he is the one who summon them to "Speak, if you can." The rhythm of the language also indicates that Macbeth is getting to be very restless with Banquo`s questioning

  2. Who was the driving force behind the murdur of duncan?

    This form of alliteration shows how the witch feels towards the sailor's wife, and also: 'the rump-fed ronyon cries' shows that she isn't happy with her refusal as she begins to plot her revenge and uses her husband as the target: 'Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the tiger'

  1. In this essay I am going to focus on what role the witches have ...

    the reader feel curious and interested to what Macbeth has to do with them. The next scene is based at a camp near Forres and a soldier reports to King Duncan that the rebel Macdonwald has been defeated and tells him that Macbeth and Banquo performed bravely in battle.

  2. In Shakespeare's "Macbeth", which character or characters bear most responsibility for the death of ...

    the character of Hecate comes to direct the witches; however, this character is probably a later interpolation by another writer, as the Folio was printed seven years after Shakespeare's death). Macbeth's subsequent failing through succumbing to temptation and killing Duncan is not the fault of God nor the witches, but himself.

  1. How does Shakespeare shape the perception of Lady Macbeth?

    Macbeth does have the desire to become ruler, but simply is not wicked or cruel enough to carry out the deed. Although, he is brave enough to be a ruthless, fighting soldier. Lady Macbeth, after reading this letter is determined to get her partner the crown.

  2. Who do you think is responsible for the death of Duncan?

    of Cawdor, he is thinking of what it will be like to be King. Duncan promises MacBeth that he will have the utmost respect foe MacBeth and that he will always be grateful for all that he had done for him in battle.

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