How is control and power shown in the play Macbeth?
I have been looking at the play Macbeth and how power and control are shown in it. I will be analysing ways in which Shakespeare shows this throughput the play and what effect this has on the audience.
Firstly, I will be looking at Act 1 Scene 1, which is the first appearance of the witches and helps sets the tone for the rest of the play. Throughout the play Shakespeare portrays the witches as being evil. One of the main quotes of this scene is “Fair is foul and foul is fair”. It is implying that all that is good is bad and all that is bad is good. It is also showing that if you wish to be successful and gain power, you must be prepared to complete bad deeds. This is a good example of the witches being shown as evil by Shakespeare. This quote is said by all of the witches together and is a rhyming couplet. The use of Trochaic Tetrameter is important within the quote and helps to portray the witches as being bad and evil. This is how a lot of supernatural characters speak within other Shakespeare plays, whereas most other characters from the play talk in blank verse. However, you see as the play goes on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both start to talk in Trochaic Tetrameter; a sign they have become evil. I should mention that at this time people strongly believed in the idea of witches. The king, James I, was obsessed with witchcraft and even passed laws condemning witchcraft and the practice of sorcery. This is significant, in that Shakespeare is believed to have written the play Macbeth to please the king. A way in which the witches are seen as having power is in their ability to control the weather. This is shown in the quote “When shall we three meet again in? /In thunder lightening or in rain?”. This is also an example of a pathetic fallacy because it adds to the dark atmosphere making the scene seem more frightening in bad weather. The idea of “thunder” and “lightening” also add to the creepiness of the witches because throughout the play whenever something bad is about to happen, Shakespeare describes the weather as thunder and lightning. This quote is the first thing that is said in the play and shows that the witches have great control and power and will play a big part in the rest of the play.
The next scene I would like to mention is Act 1 Scene 3, in this is scene the witches first meet Macbeth. The scene begins with the witches talking amongst each other about their evil deeds. They begin talking about a sailor who they wish to control. Within this conversation they show the power of foreshadowing. This is evident in the quote “I’ll drain him dry as hay / Sleep shall neither night nor day”. This is suggesting that they will suck all of the life out of him and that the sailor shall not sleep at either night or day. This foreshadows later in the play where Lady Macbeth develops a problem with not being able to sleep (insomnia) and over time Macbeth has his power ‘sucked’ out of him until he is eventually killed. However, in this scene we learn that there is a limit to the witches’ power. They admit they cannot sink the sailor’s ship “Though his bark cannot be lost” but they can manipulate the sailor “Yet it shall be tempest-tossed”. The word “tempest” relates to the witches being able to control the weather and shows the power the witches possess. This also relates to Macbeth because they do not have the power to kill Macbeth but can manipulate him by using the control they have over him. One thing the witches use to control Macbeth is by playing on his fatal flaw, his ambition. They control him by revealing to him that he shall become thane of Cawdor and then king; “… be king hereafter”. However, they do not tell him everything and reveal the prophecies within riddles to him. This can then be interpreted in different ways, for example Macbeth sees it as an opportunity to seize power rather than to wait and see what may happen. The witches...
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