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

Shakespeare's 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 response?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

George Rose Shakespeare's 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 response? In the play, Macbeth is clearly guilty of the act of murdering King Duncan. Yet in order to fully understand his motives, reasons and influences towards doing this we must consider to what degree Macbeth is solely responsible for the murder, and also to consider the dramatic techniques Shakespeare uses in order to persuade the reader into feeling certain emotions and bias. The two main influences on Macbeth's actions would have been Lady Macbeth and the three witches. Other influences too would have been greatly influential including the hallucinations of MacBeth and also his masculine desire for success. Before considering the separate characters, it is important to consider the social background of the play. This can help us to understand how many ideas of the play would have been seen by the Shakespearean audience. Witches were seen as superstitious creatures, associated with evil and wrongdoing. The use of witches in the early scenes of the play would immediately show the audience that some form of witchcraft or extraordinary actions were to take place in the course of the play. During the 17th century there was very strong religious observation. Yet this play clearly shows the influence of the supernatural. Religion shunned these forms of life and the widespread belief of the reality of evil and so these characters in the play would have been seen by the audience to be greatly controversial thus making the role of the witches one of great importance. The opening scene underlines the importance of the witches and the theme of darkness to the audience, as the first thing that the crowd see on stage will often be the most memorable. ...read more.

Middle

She asks for her "spirits" to "unsex" her and to "take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers" showing clearly to the audience a connection with the witches and thus an influence on the actions of Macbeth. This connection can not only be seen due to the addressing of spirits, but also due to the ambiguous sexuality. The witches are addressed at the beginning of the play as bearded women thus showing their own mixed sexuality. This link would allow the audience to connect Lady Macbeth with the witches thus making them very fearful and critical of her and allowing them to be ready to place blame on her. We are also shown Lady Macbeth's shallow conscience. She feels little guilt when she addresses Macbeth's unmanly characteristics and in her idea flaws of character. But even more importantly she does not seem concerned with completely turning around Macbeth's own opinions and morals. She aims to make him deeply ashamed of everything within him that prevents him from having the desire to murder the King for his own personal goal. She has no problems with ridding Macbeth of his human morality and conscience in a bid to gain position for the couple. She makes him feel guilty for his thoughts by asking him "art though afeard?" and telling him images of living "a coward in thine own esteem" which would make Macbeth feel deeply ashamed and guilty himself. By attacking Macbeth's reputation of being brave and strong against enemies, we are shown how great Lady Macbeth's control over him really is. She shows him how she, as a woman, would sacrifice her own child for him whereas he, as a man, s too cowardly to perform a simple task. ...read more.

Conclusion

Yet one could also consider that having had a full battle with his conscience suggests that Macbeth is sane throughout but is just in torment about his decisions. Having considered the influences that Macbeth would have been feeling in his decision to murder King Duncan, I have ultimately decided that Macbeth is only partially morally responsible for the deed. He felt immense pressure to perform from his wife and also was urged on by the witches' prophesies. Mentally too Macbeth may not have been in the condition to make a rational decision either as well as feeling the stress of the pressure that was being added further by Lady Macbeth. If blame were to be placed, however, on one person I feel that Lady Macbeth was, morally, the most responsible for the death of Duncan. She persuades Macbeth to swing from one side of reasoning to the other and states even that "I had done't" thus showing her deep intent to kill the king. Through the dialogues between Lady Macbeth and her husband, Shakespeare has shown the overpowering control Lady Macbeth held over husband. As well as understanding his deepest feelings and faults she also knew how to overcome them and use them to her advantage. Although the witches too influence Macbeth into thinking about killing the king, it is only Lady Macbeth who persuades him in to actually performing the murder. Through the dramatic techniques explained, such as the revealing soliloquies of Macbeth and his wife, the dialogues between all the characters and the comparison of Macbeth to Banquo, Shakespeare has managed to shape the audience into thinking that moral responsibility for the deed should rest on someone other than Macbeth himself. ...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. How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in these scenes?

    However, Macbeth has made an enormous error. He has brought the daggers from Duncan's chamber, that according to the plot must lie with the grooms. Lady Macbeth is furious with his mistake, marked by Shakespeare in the rhetorical interrogative, "why...bring these daggers from the place?"

  2. In what ways does Shakespeare make the opening scenes of Macbeth dramatic?

    This creates a lot of interest amongst the audience as Macbeth was described as being a noble, respectable and courageous man prior to his soliloquy, yet now after the witches' prediction has come true, Macbeth is falling into the witches hands- favouring their other prediction of him becoming King.

  1. How do the Witches in Macbeth Reflect contemporary ideas of witchcraft? Are the Witches ...

    My dearest love..." Lady Macbeth's greeting is the first line of the quote while Macbeth's greeting is the second line. Lady Macbeth's welcome only contains status and titles for Macbeth showing that she has no love for him. Macbeth's salutation however has 'dearest' and 'love' in it telling us that he cares for her on a deep level.

  2. What influences Macbeth to make the decision to kill Duncan in Act 1?

    The irony is it really is not. This scene also presents Duncan as an unsuspecting victim of murder which emphasises the real brutality of Macbeth's plan. Also as the Scottish beat the Norwegian invaders, he seems a good king. Even though Duncan had helped to achieve victory, the Macbeths still plan to murder him.

  1. The Importance of the Witches In Macbeth

    Banquo says in line 124, "The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray 's In deepest consequence." He thinks and says bad things of the witches and does not trust them. He calls them instruments of darkness and thinks they are voices of the devil.

  2. The Balance of power between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

    He then starts to predict things to himself. He immediately writes home to his wife and addresses her as "My dearest partner of greatness" This shows that their relationship is equal and he doesn't assume that he is greater than her as many men of that age did.

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

    The audience know this because Macbeth says, "This is a step on which I must fall down or else o'erleap," referring to Malcolm. This will confirm to the audience about what Macbeth is capable of in terms of treachery, though I can imagine the audience trying to scream at him "Calm Down Macbeth, Murder isn't the right course of action!"

  2. Personal Response to Macbeth as a Character.

    Tell me more." This scene is very important because it is a major step towards Macbeth changing into a more ruthless character. Shakespeare makes the Macbeth look dire to the audience by comparing his reaction with Banquo's. Macbeth is restless to find out more about his fate from the witches and commands them to stay.

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