Introduction: William Shakespeare effectively uses dramatic irony to intrigue the reader and deepen the impact of the consequences Macbeth ultimately faces. Dramatic Irony Definition: Dramatic Irony is a literary term that defines a situation in the play where the reader knows more than the character does. Thesis: Throughout the play Macbeth, the reader is given the advantage of knowing more things than the characters in the play through the literary device, dramatic irony. This results in suspense and heightens the flaws of the characters. Background Knowledge:
Point #1- Witches lie to Macbeth: Quote: “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor”! – Second Witch (Act 1 Scene 3). This is ironic because Macbeth does not actually know that King Duncan has already made him the Thane of Cawdor. This is meaningful due to the fact that it makes Macbeth trust the witches. It relates to villainous nature because the witches have their evil schemes all planned out beforehand. This is significant because Macbeth needs to be the Thane of Cawdor so that he can have the King sleep in his castle to fulfill their prophecy. Point #2- Macbeth wears a mask: Quote: “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. He was a gentleman on who, I built an absolute trust.” – King Duncan (Act 1 Scene 4). The irony in this extract is made obvious when King Duncan, a noble and truthful king, trusts the Thane of Cawdor, and immediately after he says this- Macbeth enters. Shakespeare presents dramatic irony to the audience when Macbeth enters the room. Duncan is talking about trust and this is ironic because Macbeth will ultimately kill King Duncan. Macbeth’s duplicity is displayed when Duncan greets Macbeth by saying “O worthiest cousin” to which he responds “the service and loyalty I owe in doing it pays itself.
Point #3- Macbeth wishing Banquo safety on his journey: Quote: “This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto our gentle senses.”- King Duncan (Act 1 Scene 6). This section highlights the incredible Irony of the situation. King Duncan has been invited into Macbeth’s home, to dine and enjoy himself. He expects to have a great time and is ridiculously thankful, yet what makes this ironic is the fact that the hostess that he is praising is conspiring to kill him-he will be murdered that night. This represents the duplicitous nature of Macbeth, as the outward nobility of his character is contrasted greatly to his true spirit. Point #4- Macbeth planning to kill Banquo: Quote: “I wish your horses swift, and sure foot- and so I do commend you to their backs. Farewell. Let every man be master of his time till seven at night- To make society the sweeter welcome, we will keep yourself till supper-time alone- While then, god be with you”- Macbeth. (Act 3 Scene 1). The irony is shown because we (the readers) know that Macbeth is plotting the murder of Banquo due to the witches’ prophecy. This is meaningful because we are leaning more about Macbeth’s character and it develops tension for the reader keeping them interested. This relates to the plays dramatic irony as it shows how he is trying to be friendly to Banquo; meanwhile he is trying to murder King Duncan. Dramatic Irony highlights the character development. Point #5- Macbeth and Lady Macbeth switch roles: Quote: “Naught’s had, all’s spent, where our desire is got without content. ‘Tis safer safer to be that which we destroy than be destruction dwell in doubtful of joy.” – Lady Macbeth (Act 3 Scene2).
Dramatic irony is present because just prior to this scene, Macbeth has convinced murderers to kill Banquo to prevent him from getting his way. Although, Lady Macbeth speaks to how she would rather be killed than be the killer. The irony is that Lady Macbeth, the original killer of Duncan (person who convinced Macbeth) now hates killing, but Macbeth, the originally feeble one now loves it. It relates to...