How does Shakespeare present the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Act 1? Macbeth is a dramatic play which tells the story of the downfall of a ‘Nobleman’ who becomes a ‘tyrant’. In Act one Shakespeare introduces the characters Macbeth and Lady Macbeth using a range of dramatic devices. At the start of the play Macbeth is introduced from two different perspectives. He is firstly introduced by the three witches whom are discussing a meeting with him ‘There to meet with Macbeth’. This scene would create immense tension for the audience as the presence of the witches in the play would indicate a series of evil and sinister events occurring later on in the play. King James I was also afraid of witches so this scene would tense the audience even more. Shakespeare uses the supernatural beliefs of the people during that era as it created a dramatic atmosphere and it helped indicate that the plot of the story was going to be full of conspiracies and murder. It also implies that the main character Macbeth is going to be a character which becomes influenced by evil forces. The first scene is set in a battlefield which creates an eerie atmosphere as it links to the prospect of death and danger. The mood of the play is set in the first scene creating suspense and curiosity for the audience. Macbeth is then introduced again in the play by the Captain, whom is talking to King Duncan, in Act 1 Scene 2 as ‘Brave Macbeth’. We are told that ‘His brandish’d steel
smok’d with bloody execution.’
This gives the audience another impression about Macbeth that he is a respected man as he is being talked about by the king. Macbeth is also talked about by Ross who describes him as ‘Bellona’s bridegroom, lapp’d in proof,’ looking like the Roman Goddess of war’s husband, covered in strong armour. Shakespeare uses roman beliefs to introduce Macbeth as a brave and successful warrior as he is being called the Roman Goddess of wars husband.
Macbeth is physically introduced in Act 1 Scene 3, ‘Upon the Heath’ when he meets the three witches for the first time. This would create an intense moment for the audience as the witches are being introduced again, which suggests that evil influences and supernatural events would occur soon. A daunting atmosphere would also be created as it is thundering which signifies death, danger and warning. When the witches enter the Second witch is questioned where she has been and answers ‘Killing swine’. This remark would startle the intended audience as witches were often accused of harming or killing livestock. Macbeth’s entrance also creates apprehension for the audience as the first words Macbeth are ‘So foul and fair’. These words were similar to the final words of the witches at the end of Act 1 Scene 1 ‘fair is foul, and foul is fair,’. The witches then tell Macbeth that he shall be ‘Thane of Glamis’ which he already is, ‘Thane of Cawdor’ and ‘that shalt be king hereafter’. They also tell Banquo that he will father kings. These prophecies left Macbeth in confusion and make him wonder how he could achieve these titles, as when the witches vanish Macbeth says ‘would they had stay’d’, wishing the witches had stayed so he could question them. These prophecies give the audience the impression that Macbeth may achieve these titles but through sinister and dishonest schemes as witches were involved, linking it to evil. After the witches vanish Ross and Angus enter. Ross and Angus explain how the King has received news of the success of the battle and Ross rewards Macbeth with his new title ‘Thane of Cawdor’. This would leave the audience in suspense as the witches had prophesized that Macbeth would receive this title. This also leaves Macbeth contemplating how the prophecies are coming true, as he has just received the title ‘Thane of Cawdor’ and how he could achieve the title ‘King’. At this point the audience would see Macbeth becoming ambitious and more confident in attaining the title ‘King’. As he...
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