Compare the ways Shakespeare presents fear and doubt in Macbeth and Richard III?

Topics: Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Question Pages: 5 (1206 words) Published: April 23, 2015
Compare and contrast how doubt and uncertainty are presented in Richard III and Macbeth

Macbeth is a tragedy play written by William Shakespeare. The play is set in Scotland during the mid 11th century. But, the play was written in 1606 at a time where James I was on the throne. King James was a very superstitious man who believed in magic and witchcraft and these themes were presented in Macbeth to please the King. Also the political context is important as it was included in Macbeth with the ideas of excessive ambition. On the other hand, Richard III is a historical play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1592. It presents the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses imagery and symbols in the play to present the uncertainty and doubt with Lady Macbeth. This is presented in the quote: “Is this a dagger which I see before me,

The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.”

This quote shows Macbeth’s uncertainty at this point in the play and it is also one of the first signs of his deterioration. The imagery of the dagger was used by Shakespeare effectively, as it can be taken as Macbeth losing his head or an actually sign of a ghosts and witchcraft that is haunting their action. Here, Shakespeare presents Macbeth to be going insane has him questioning his own state and his vision.” Is this a dagger which I see before me” shows this. Also this quote presents the battle between dream and reality as he is unclear whether this “dagger” is in his mind or actually in front of him. Also another idea which is presented is that he is being haunted by this dagger and this could be a reference to the witches or witchcraft. These ideas were commonly believed at this time where there was lots of superstition with the people and the King. Shakespeare also presents doubt with foreshadowing. “Come, let me clutch thee.” This foreshadows that there is more killing to come as he will need to use a knife and murder more people to achieve their goal of taking the throne.


In Macbeth
“If chance will have me king why, chance
may crown me,
without my stir”
Here, Macbeth is showing doubt as he isn’t certain whether there is a need to kill King Duncan as it may happen anyway. His uncertainty is shown through the quote as it shows a reflective frame of mind and also it presents a foreshadowing effect of events to come. This is presented by the witches as they appear to Macbeth and give him hope which is soon lost as we see in this quote. This reference is clearly connected with the witches, this was probably included to please James I. Shakespeare has also used the uncertainty of Macbeth and the certainty and determination of Lady Macbeth to use a juxtaposed effect to emphasise Macbeth’s doubt in himself and in his actions. In this quote we see that Macbeth’s morality makes him uncertain at this point in the play as he doesn’t want to kill the king.

In Macbeth, Shakespeare presents doubt and uncertainty using conditional phrases when Macbeth speaks, this is evident in the line:

If we should fail?
Lady Macbeth
We fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we’ll not fail. Furthermore, Macbeth is questioning their fate in the play. Macbeth is presented as uncertain and his attitudes are opposed with the assurance of Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare shows uncertainty to present the attitudes of people of this time. He shows that Shakespeare is thinking about the consequences of his actions. This is about getting caught and also about the future beyond this crime. As people were very superstitious this could be seen as a act against God resulting in both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth going to hell, Macbeth is uncertain about his actions and the position he will be in later. The effect on the audience is that they can reflect on their actions and also think about the consequences just as Macbeth as done....
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