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Audience Response to Macbeth

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Audience Response to Macbeth

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  • May 2013
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The human condition has been explored throughout time and its study has primarily allowed us to learn from our past and develop as people. The Elizabethan era is very different from the world today as our values and beliefs have changed to suit our level of knowledge and intelligence. These differences become clear when exploring an audience's response to William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, from the Elizabethan era and today. The text was written in 1606 and was set in Scotland. The tragedy construes what egotistical ambition can do to the mind. Key themes of loyalty and betrayal, the increase in intelligence of humans, the way laws govern society and the balance in power between genders affect an audience's response to Macbeth. Specifically speaking; Macbeth's corruption, the three witches and Lady Macbeth’s power in marriage show how theses themes affect the difference in a viewer’s response to Macbeth from the 17th Century to today.

Macbeth is initially established as loyal and faithful and he shows this by saying, "The service and the loyalty I owe, In doing it, pays itself. Your highness' part." The idea of loyalty in Elizabethan times was a huge deal, however, during the course of the play, jealously of King Duncan grows in his veins. After some encouragement from other characters, ambition overrides his core and soon King Macbeth is born. During the 17th Century productions of the play, Macbeth kills King Duncan offstage. There are many theories as to why this occurred (because all other murder scenes were performed on stage) but the main reason is because authorities didn’t want their citizens thinking the government could be removed so easily. People back then would respond to this idea of killing the king in horror and disgust. This was because loyalty was valued highly back then and to earn faith from your king would require a lot of effort. So when Macbeth becomes king, anyone who even followed him out of fear or blackmail would be seen cowardly and...

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