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

What impression do you get of Macbeth from the First Act?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What impression do you get of Macbeth from the First Act? From the first act I get the impression that Macbeth is a very complex character. It is impossible to work out his 'mind's construction'. He seems the epitome of opposite, contrasting, ideas. The literary critic Kenneth Muir wrote: Macbeth is a noble and gifted man who chooses treachery and crime, not believing he has any justification for his deeds, but knowing them precisely for what they are. I agree with this as Macbeth does know exactly what he is doing, yet does not seem callous and cunning even though he is in fact a 'villain'. Macbeth seems a manipulative, bloodthirsty murderer. Even though he does so evilly plot Duncan's demise, Shakespeare writes Macbeth's character with such humanity that we still have respect, empathy and understanding with Macbeth through some parts of the play. When in Act 2, Scene 2, Macbeth regrets murdering Duncan and says 'Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!' we can feel sorry for Macbeth because, from then on, you get the impression that Macbeth knows that he is doomed. In Act 1, Scene 1, the three witches set the evil foundations of the play when they say they are 'There to meet with Macbeth.' The witches' talk builds up to the word 'Macbeth', their sentences get shorter and more urgent up to it, and then the talk just fades away. We know Macbeth and evil will "meet". You can't help but get the impression that Macbeth is associated with them, part of their dubious plans, and it immediately shows that Macbeth will not be a pleasant character. This idea is reinforced in Scene 3 as the first ever words of the protagonist Macbeth are echoing the witches' charms: 'foul and fair'. So it seems that Macbeth has repeated something that he knows or has heard before. ...read more.

Middle

It is ironic that as soon as he says this Macbeth walks in. And Duncan is so innocent of Macbeth's plans that he trusts him enough to go and stay at his house. It is also ironic and sad that Duncan always trusts the wrong people. He is so grateful, gracious and benign towards Macbeth and Banquo that, by contrast, to Duncan we hate Macbeth even more. Especially when he is so humble and loving towards Duncan and we know really that he will murder him. There is irony in that Macbeth says to the king that it is his duty to keep the kings 'love and honour' 'safe' when really Macbeth wants Duncan to be anything but safe. This scene suggests that the comfortable, natural, close-knit, trusting society will soon be shattered by Macbeth's regicide and replaced with political and moral chaos when Macbeth sits on the throne. The courtly imagery is so full of promise: of planting, growing and harvest, we don't understand Macbeth's greed in wanting to change this. We see the king as being a poor judge of character and na�ve maybe a coward for not being at the front of the battle, a foolish leader yet he seems so wonderful now compared with Macbeth. He is being ingratiating and grovelling toward Macbeth: 'my worthy Cawdor' 'O worthiest cousin' and Macbeth is responding suitably but not genuinely like Banquo. There is a build up to Duncan's successor being named but it is ironic that Macbeth in his arrogance assumed himself to be announced instead of the obvious choice of Duncan son. Macbeth here finally admits his 'black and deep desires' and says 'The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.' Because of this statement, we feel certain that he will murder Duncan. There is irony is Scene 5 when, from the letter that she receives from Macbeth, Lady Macbeth instantly predicts his feelings and her predictions show to be true. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shakespeare wrote Macbeth at a time when regicide was a popular topical issue, the play was written between 1603 and 1606 just after the attempted regicide in the Gunpowder plot and the subsequent trials and executions. The play would be great entertainment for the English people, who were still worried about 'tyrants' who abused the 'Divine Right of Kings' they would approve of Macbeth's eventual death at the end of the play. Macbeth's very human feelings, his greed, fear and remorse for example, were things the audience would relate to. There was strong belief in witches and the powers of evil, Macbeth's fascination with the witches and his blind belief in them would have been understood at the time. King James I who Shakespeare was writing the play for, wrote a book about 'Daemonologie' himself. Macbeth's strange imaginings, in Scene 7's soliloquy, would also not seem so strange at the time of the play being written, England was a Catholic country then, with a faith in angels, heaven, eternal punishment in burning hell and Judgement. It would not seem so weird to an audience of that time that Lady Macbeth was calling on 'evil spirits' to help her with what was such a terrible crime. Shakespeare had to give over the impression that killing a rightful king was against the natural order of life and could not come to good. Yet if Macbeth were fated from the start, then there would be no point in writing a tragedy, the audience would have no sympathy with Macbeth unless he showed these human, pitiful feelings of regret and remorse. Macbeth's character is so intriguing because the play was written as a drama and therefore is meant to entertain. Our impression of Macbeth should not be clear, as this would bore an audience. His humanity and confusion are things the audience can relate to and therefore enjoy. Overall, my impression is that Macbeth is of a very human man, he is pitiful yet brave and foolhardy. His personality will always be a mystery and that is part of the enjoyment of reading Macbeth. Esther Lloyd 10r ...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. Marked by a teacher

    How far can the audience sympathise with Lady Macbeth?

    4 star(s)

    The imagery used is tender and loving, but is then juxtaposed with a most disturbing image, "I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this."

  2. Peer reviewed

    Discuss the Role Played by the Witches in the Tragedy of Macbeth

    3 star(s)

    that impedes thee from the golden round, Which Fate and metaphysical aid doth seem To have thee crown'd withal" The reference to Fate is interesting. The Fates were some of the oldest and original witches. Here we see a reference to the supernatural.

  1. In the beginning of the play Macbeth is portrayed as a loyal, valiant warrior ...

    Lady Macbeth strongly wants to do it, and we constantly think who is going to get their way in the end. He thinks Duncans death will lead to the throne, but they will "jump the life to come" if they commit a sin, and not go to heaven.

  2. Look like the innocent flower, but be a serpent undert How does Shakespeare ...

    This quote is interesting as we do not know whether he is hallucinating because the witches are controlling his mind or whether he is obsessed with murdering King Duncan. The mind controls what you see and what you don't besides the physical tangible real world, Shakespeare is telling the reader

  1. Does Shakespeare present Lady Macbeth as good or evil?

    Then when she says the lines "act like the innocent flower" I would imagine her to dance around Macbeth, almost float around him like an angel by spinning her body around causing her skirt to wave looking heavenly and very innocent.

  2. How does Shakespeare present the character of Lady Macbeth in 'Macbeth'?

    get what they both want, she does not want him to cheat, but she would be quite happy for him to win unfairly if it meant that she has optimum status and power. She talks aloud in soliloquy, revealing her thoughts about her husband and her own intentions to the audience.

  1. Explain what Act 1, Scene 7 tells us about the characters of Macbeth and ...

    This could be related to Oliver Cromwell winning the English civil war, taking the crown from its royal line and making himself Lord Protector, until his death when the crown is given to James and the royal line. The association of the Thane of Cawdor with greed and treachery could also be related to a real historical event.

  2. What use does Shakespeare make of contrast in 'Macbeth'?

    In Act two Scene 1 on the night of the planned murder of Duncan the darkness is displayed to the audience by what Banquo says: There's husbandry in heaven, Their candles are all out.' This is exactly what the Macbeths asked for on the night of the murder which lets

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