Macbeth Openings

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How does Shakespeare create mood and atmosphere in the opening scenes of Macbeth? Act 1 Scene 1 is set in ‘an open place’, immediately indicating to the reader that something secretive is happening, the very setting of the first scene indicates tension to come. The stage direction reads ‘Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches.’ The weather creates a tense atmosphere, when the scene is performed the weather acts as pathetic fallacy, further creating tension in the atmosphere; also the weather suggests a supernatural element, a common component of the Gothic genre. The witches talk in rhyming couplets, as though a chant; Witch 1 says ‘When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?’.This indicates the witches can see into the future, developing further on the supernatural element; Shakespeare mentions this power of the witches in the first scene to shock the audience, and to develop the sinister atmosphere. The witches agree to meet on ‘the heath’, an isolated and secretive location suggesting their intentions are evil. During this scene Macbeth is mentioned for the first time, the witches say they are to meet him, Shakespeare does this to foreshadow Macbeth’s link to evil, by suggesting Macbeth knows the witches the audience automatically associates Macbeth with the witches. The ending of the scene has great impact, all witches recite ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.’ Again the witches are ‘chanting’ and talking in rhyming couplets, suggesting they have telepathic powers, securing the idea that they have supernatural powers. At the era in which Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, James I was King, he was extremely interested in Witches, so many suggest Shakespeare wrote the play to please the King, and his followers. Act 1 scene 1 is a short impact scene for dramatic effect, Shakespeare introduces the witches as the first characters in the play, and this is to foreshadow the evil to come and to engage the...
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