‘Macbeth’ is a well known Shakespeare play of a man who kills his way to win the throne. A key scene within this play that demonstrates Macbeth’s moral degradation is the banquet scene where he hallucinates the ghost of Banquo, the man he ordered to be murdered. The plot is about a man who believes witches prophecies that he will become king. He then kills his way to the throne after being convinced by his wife Lady Macbeth. In the key scene, Shakespeare uses the hallucination of the ghost of Banquo to reveal who Macbeth truly is and the suspicious guests will lead to Macbeth having a downfall.
The banquet scene is an important event for Macbeth as it is the first chance that they have had to impress the Scottish nobles since been crowned. Their first impressions must show that they are in complete control, a loving, stable couple and good hosts. This however will not be easy for Macbeth as he recently ordered for his best friend Banquo and his son to be murdered and hasn’t slept for days. His decision to kill Banquo has clearly made a large impression on him as he starts hallucinating Banquo at the scene. This then makes his guests suspicious that he is completely out of control.
The opening scene begins with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s first opportunity to meet the Scottish nobles. Macbeth’s words to the thanes: “You know your own degrees” and “Both sides are even: here I’ll sit i’th’midst” This highlights that Macbeth is suggesting Scotland to be renewed and symmetrical. However the audience knows that this is not the case as Banquo is missing making dramatic tension. This links to the key scene as this is the start of the build up before Macbeth fall downwards.
Dramatic tension is created when one of the murderers, before the meal reveals to Macbeth that they successfully killed Banquo but his son managed to escape. To begin with Macbeth is pleased with the murderer and tells him he is “the nonpareil” but after hearing the news about Banquo’s son Fleance escaping, his language suddenly changes: “But now I am cabin’d, cribbed, confin’d, bound in / To saucy doubts and fears.” This shows that Shakespeare used alliteration in the c to create a harsh sound that increases the tension. Macbeth now seems panicked after being pleased about the first news. This then makes Macbeth on the edge making him seem less controlled to his guests and they will wonder why.
A change appears after a toast is raised to Banquo’s absence in Macbeth as he begins to hallucinate the ghost of Banquo. The ghost was so hideous it would “appal the devil.” Macbeth is confused why he is seeing him when he is dead and should not “be alive again” and his bones should “be marrowless” and its blood “cold”. Macbeth’s strange behaviour makes the guests suspicious and curious to why he is acting so different. Lady Macbeth then orders them to leave “stand not upon the order of your going” without them leaving in a particular way with the elder go first. This shows that Macbeth as no control over the situation and Lady Macbeth’s sudden request for the Scottish nobles to leave makes tension rise.
The last part of the scene is Macbeth and Lady Macbeth alone which gives an eerie atmosphere. Macbeth then begins to find the world of evil and needs to visit the witches. “It will have blood they say: blood will have blood...I am in blood / stepped in so far...We are young but yet young in deed.” The repeated word of “blood” shows an evil and eerie atmosphere as Macbeth is now powerless to stop the idea of so many murders taking place. Macbeth thinks that since he has already killed he might as well continue. Macbeth’s moral degradation shows his determination.
In conclusion, the banquet scene in ‘Macbeth by William Shakespeare is a dramatic key scene which highlights Macbeth’s downfall as he begins to breakdown in front of the Scottish nobles. The dramatic techniques of the hallucination and the suspicion of the guests create the turning point of the play.