How does Shakespeare Create Atmosphere in Macbeth?

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Jonathan Memel         

Essay- how does Shakespeare Create

Atmosphere in Macbeth?      

        This Essay will provide two main purposes; To show how Shakespeare Develops atmosphere in Macbeth and secondly how I could introduce new Stage directions to emphasise the atmosphere even more.

        As the audience knows, A terrible deed is about to be performed in Act 2 scene 1 and therefore he tries to create an air of terrible tension and the characters are obviously nervous.

        “Give me my Sword- who’s there?” –Line 10 Scene 1.

Even though Banquo, as yet, has no idea about the murder, he is still jerky. He could be feeling the tension because of the eerie atmosphere created by Shakespeare with the use Of Sound as well as other characters mentioning the eerie night. As soon as he senses someone he immediately goes for his sword. This shows Banquo is immediately assuming that the other person is an enemy. His body language shows aggression and challenging behaviour. After this Macbeth immediately responds to Banquo by saying “a friend” (Line 11). This is ironic, as, although they are friends at this point, Macbeth is about to perform a deed that would certainly ruin their relationship.

        “I think not of them; Yet when we can entreat an hour to serve” Line 22.

This is the response by Macbeth after Banquo is, honestly, stating that he has been thinking about the Witches prophecies. Macbeth blatantly lies and says that he hasn’t thought about it. Shakespeare has continued to create the atmosphere of tension by including this, we have all lied under pressure. It also makes an interesting contrast between the 2 characters. Banquo is being open and maybe more honest and brave while Macbeth is being Cowardly by not letting his feelings out. This contrast is a start for what is continued at the end of the play. The audience are more than likely going to see the Irony in this as Macbeth has been spending nearly the whole play thinking about the Prophecies.

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         In terms of stage directions I would suggest that all movement was jerky and very aggressive and nervy. The actors would be putting on a brave face but you would be able to see their nervousness underneath. I doubt the characters would use a lot of hand actions, as most of the things that they are talking about aren’t sincere. Regular spooky noises, Which Shakespeare has already put in, would help to keep up the atmosphere.

        “Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?” Line 33.

        When Banquo and Fleance leave, the atmosphere ...

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