Irony in Macbeth

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Dramatic Irony is the result of information being shared with the audience but withheld from one or more of the characters. Example: In Act 1 Scene 4, line 50 , the witches hail Macbeth, “thane of Cawdor!” Dramatic irony: At this point, Macbeth is unaware that the king has conferred this honor upon him because of his valor in battle, so he attributes his fortune to the witches’ prophecy. However, the audience knows Duncan made the pronouncement in Act 1, Scene 3. Purpose: This dramatic irony is to show Macbeth’s belief that the witches speak the truth and are responsible for his success. This belief can, and does, influence his future actions. Example: In Act 1, Scene 6, line 1, Duncan says, “This castle hath a pleasant seat” Dramatic irony: When Duncan reaches the castle, he feels secure and welcome at the home of his loyal kinsmen. However, the audience is aware that he may be murdered that very night. It is also ironic that he calls the castle “a pleasant seat”, when it’s the place where he is eventually killed. Purpose: This irony is to contribute to suspense. Since the audience knows more than the character, the audience is positioned to wait for the character to gain awareness.

Irony in Macbeth

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth there was a lot of irony, and Shakespeare intended the irony of the play to build and maintain suspense, while creating a vague sense of fear. For example, the irony in the play started out early, with the witches’ prophecies to Macbeth and Banquo. The prophecies to Macbeth were all ironic paradoxes. In Act I, Scene iii, the witches told Macbeth, “All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.” This prophecy was ironic because even though it was true, it did not turn out how Macbeth expected it to. Macbeth probably thought that being the king would be great. He would be rich, everyone would respect him, he’d have all the power in Scotland, and he thought that that would make him happy. Of course, since the witches’ prophecies were...
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