Analysis of Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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Analysis of Macbeth by William Shakespeare

To a Shakespearean audience the natural order, obedience to those

above you in the hierarchy, would have been a familiar and accepted

ideal. At this time when England was under constant threat of Catholic

insurrection, it was in Shakespeare’s interest to write a play which

would please the King, James 1.

Macbeth’ raises the issue of a crime which the state would regard as

a crime even against God, as the monarch was thought to be a ruler

appointed by God and acting in his name. To murder a monarch therefore

would have been considered to have been completely against the natural

order, an evil action.

As part of my English GCSE I have been asked to evaluate the 1st and 2nd

acts of Macbeth and show how Shakespeare makes us aware that Duncan’s

murder is evil and against the natural order.

An atmosphere of evil is created right from the very start of the

play. “Thunder and lightening. Enter three witches.” They plan to meet

Macbeth “When the hurly-burly’s done. When the battle’s lost, and

won.” Every word they speak seems to link them with evil and foulness.

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair, Hover through the fog and filthy


In Shakespearean England the atmosphere of distrust and suspicion was

a powerful breeding ground for persecution and witch-hunts were

common. People them days were induced to relate witches as rebels

against God and the divine order. So starting the play with this

dramatic scene is setting out to grip the audience’s attention from

the very start of the play.

The Shakespearean audience would therefore be immediately aware at the

very start of the play that this drama concerns evil and foul deeds.

The mention of Macbeth by the witches would also tell the audience

that he is part of their evil plans!

In Act1, Scene 3 when the witches next appear the stage directions are

almost identical: “Thunder. Enter the three witches.” Here the witches

begin to boast about the evil deeds each of them has done since they

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