Shakespeare's Macbeth

In both the Royal Shakespeare Company and Macbeth on the Estate versions of act 3 scene 4 starts with a pleasant atmosphere. Ian Mckellen

English Coursework – Macbeth Act 3 Scene 4


How does Shakespeare portray Macbeth in this scene?

Macbeth presents himself as a very noble and respectable person at the

start of the scene but soon his act slips and the true side of Macbeth

is evident. Macbeth is the first to speak in this scene showing that

he is trying to show his power over the lords. I think Shakespeare did

this because the whole point of this scene is to show that Macbeth is

trying to take charge. Macbeths’ first words are:

“ You know your own degrees, sit down: at first / last, / the hearty


Macbeth is letting all the lords know that he is in charge by making

the lords sit in order of their rank, this is what the feudal system

of the time Macbeth was set in was like. However at the same time he

is being friendly and welcoming so he can portray himself as a popular


Macbeths’ deceptive side is portrayed a lot in this scene. From the

start he is being deceptive; one second he is talking to the lords

acting the “ humble host ” then he is talking to the murderer of

Banquo. Shakespeare is using a method called juxtaposing, he is trying

to show how Macbeth can be friendly and change so easily and quickly

into being evil. Shakespeare is very good at portraying Macbeth as a


“ Here had our country’s honour roofed / Were the graced person of our

Banquo present;”

Macbeth is praising Banquo, saying that he is one of his greatest

nobles when he knows that Banquo is dead because of him.

“ Who may I rather challenge for unkindness / than pity for


He has just said that he hopes nothing bad has happened to Banquo when

he knows that he is dead. This also backs up the evidence of Macbeths

more deceitful side.

When Banquos ghost first enters the room it sits on Macbeth’s seat.

Shakespeare has done this to represent Macbeths evil and deceit.

Macbeths deceit does not end here:

“There’s not a one of them, but in his house / I keep a servant fee’d”

He is admitting to having a servant of every noble in Scotland spying

on their boss. Now Macbeths’ evil and deceit are spreading all over


Shakespeare is also showing Macbeths’ progressing evil a lot in this

scene. It is evident at the start and the end of the scene.

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