Pen and Paper - You Have the Right to be Silent

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William Shakespeare was a playwright of the Elizabethan times. He has written many plays which are still studied to this day. One of his most famous plays is Macbeth. Macbeth is a play of revenge, blood and death. It speaks of the killing of two of Scotland’s kings – the first for ambition and the second for justice. During this, Shakespeare also reveals many human truths such as ambition, vengeance and hatred. Shakespeare was influenced in his writing of Macbeth by James I, who was a patron of Shakespeare’s acting company. The play Macbeth pays homage to the King, who was rumoured to be a descendant of Banquo, and shows Shakespeare’s close relationship with him.

This extract comes from act three scene one after Macbeth has killed the king, Duncan, in order to ascend to kingship and fulfil the witches’ prophesies more rapidly. It focuses on the effect the prophesy given to Banquo “thou shall get kings, though thou be none” (1.3.69) has on Macbeth’s mind and over his actions. There are two parts to this extract, the first being in the style of a soliloquy, the better to show Macbeth’s inner fear of Banquo, and the second being a dialogue with the first murderer, which establishes for the reader the extent to which Macbeth is willing to go to protect both his life and his crown. This extract focuses on two major parts of the play and how they affect Macbeth: ambition and morality. Ambition is Macbeth’s hubris and the entire play focuses on his ambition and how it brought his eventual downfall. His ambition underlies his fear of Banquo and thus his desire to have him killed. Macbeth’s morality is seen to change as the play progresses. This extract places a contrast between Macbeth’s morality before Duncan’s murder and his moral qu...

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... become fewer as the play continues. Before Duncan’s murder, Macbeth showed indecision and guilt. However, during the extract, he only sees an obstacle which he needs to rid himself of. The extract gives an indication of what is later to come and how ambition has caused Macbeth’s loss of morality and downfall. Shakespeare uses this extract to foreshadow what is to come from his ambition and lack of morality. The effectiveness of this relies on the use of literary features such as diction, juxtaposition and allusion, which bring about the information in a more subtle manner.

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