'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare is a play set in 1040 about a
Scottish general named Macbeth. It explores the transformation and
effect of his ambition upon his life. Although it is set in 1040, it
is written in the 1606 under the reign of James 1st. James' very
recent accession to the English throne would have been of great
contemporary importance and a play which focuses on Kingship would
have roused interest too.
The first characters we are introduced to in the opening of the play
are the witches. The witches immediately give the sense of a
supernatural presence that creates fear and confusion for the
audience, who would at that time have believed in witches. The witches
use rhyming blank verse:
'When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightening, or in rain?'
This rhyming blank verse stands out from the blank verse spoken by the
other characters. This line in the play also emphasizes that whenever
the witches 'meet' or appear there is always 'thunder', 'lightening'
and 'rain,' this links with the stage directions that also change to
'thunder and lightening' whenever the witches appear. This emphasizes
that with the chaotic change of weather in the natural world it breeds
unnatural beings. The witches speak in rhymed verse combining
alliteration and assonance also to emphasize that they are
'Double double toil and trouble;
fire burn, and cauldron bubble'
In addition to the rhyming verse the witches also use language of
contradiction, 'fair, is foul and foul is fair,' and 'lesser then
Macbeth and greater.' These verses add to th...
... middle of paper ...
...racter strengthens as he thinks about murdering Macduff:
'I am in blood
Stepped in so far, that should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.'
This underlines Macbeth's feelings that he is so advanced in this
murder that it is easier to continue his course of violence then to go
back. This also foreshadows that anyone is in danger and Macbeth shall
murder again. At this point in the play we realize that no one but
Macbeth is responsible for the death of Lady Macduff and her son, it
is the point where Macbeth kills only for desire and not political
I believe that although Macbeth is clearly influenced by the witches
and Lady Macbeth, he still has a freedom of will and the evil is
therefore primarily inherent in his character. He therefore makes a
decision whether to murder or not.
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