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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?

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

("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.

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