A clear similarity can be seen between; the opening scene of ‘Hamlet’ and the Banquet scene in ‘Macbeth’. They both contain the appearance of a supernatural being, in both cases, a ghost. He uses the appearance of these characters to appeal to the audience in different ways. The response would definitely vary from groundlings, the audience members that pay very little for their tickets and stand beneath stage level, to the stands, higher caste people which occupy the higher stands with clearer view of the stage and therefore more expensive tickets.
Firstly I would like to focus on the mood in these scenes. In Hamlet there is an atmosphere of tension from the politics of war. We know there has been a war, one is happening or one is expected because the guards which feature in this first section of the play appear to be on red alert, saying things such as ‘Nay, Answer me, stand and unfold yourself’ in caution, they also seem to be keen to know what has happened during the previous watch. ‘Have you had a quiet guard?’ This enthrals the audience as they want to know what is occurring and who or what they may be protecting as they have no idea of the set as so far other than what they can see on the stage. The characters on the stage would be the only factor giving away the atmosphere. Another factor of this would be that the play has started in media res; this makes a difference on the audience because of the sudden beginning making an immediate impact upon them. The ghost’s appearance would emphasise this still. In Macbeth’s banquet scene however, we have the atmosphere of guilt and suspicion, the suspicion in this scene is clear when Macbeth says ‘Which of you have done this?’ this would have been seen as very strange as an accusation from such a high status character in the play. The entirety of the event may even jeopardise his position as king through the troubles that he has caused himself by his tragic flaw o wanting to become king. These strong feelings are present because of the actions that Macbeth has taken through ‘vaulting ambition’. Such as the murder of the previous king, Duncan, and his The audience are aware of the position Macbeth is in also unlike Hamlet because this scene is halfway through the play and not right at the beginning like Hamlets scene.
Next, I believe the setting and time of these scenes to be of key importance also. Shakespearean theatre would have lacked the lighting and special effects we have today, these requirements would have been solely dependant on the actors and musician’s skill. The banqueting scene of Macbeth is set in an enclosed space in a castle; this may have made it easier to set out on a stage due to the stage being inside as well. We know Macbeth’s scene is set inside because of the mention of being under the country’s roof in line 1. There is a blatant difference in the setting then with the first scene of Hamlet being set outside on top of the battlements, we know this because of the speech that is exchanged between the guards on watch; ‘tis bitter cold’. This therefore does make the setting very different to Macbeth whom is inside in a castle. Stage directions also make it obvious to us when reading the scripts ‘Ellsinore. A platform before the castle’ in Hamlet is where it is set accurately. The weather can also add to this setting factor, by using pathetic fallacy, Shakespeare increases the suspension in the atmosphere of the theatre with constant mentions to the weather and darkness. The setting on Macbeth could throw the audience members of all castes because they would relate the supernatural to darker spirited places such as the setting of Hamlet where the ghost would almost be expected due to the speech exchanged between the guards on watch; ‘Has this thing appear’d again tonight?’ and ‘Tush Tush, ‘twill not appear’. This last quotation could also be used to bedevil the audience once again. Being as this guard that says this is of higher status than the...
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