Macbeth Act three scene four
The Banquet scene takes place nearly immediately after Macbeth betrays his former best friend and sends out a group of murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. It is the Core part of the story where a few dramatic changes take place.
He sends the order to kill his friend and son as all the witch’s former predictions came to light, and Macbeth believed them when they said that although Banquo himself will not become king, his offspring shall. This causes Macbeth to wonder, what good is this throne, if it will merely be taken from him by Fleance.Banquo is slaughtered but Fleance escapes. We discover this as we saw Banquo’s bloody demise, no other members of the cast know this until one of the murderers actually appears at the banquet.
This gives a sense of ‘Dramatic Irony’, which is present, more than often throughout the play. This certainly captivates an audience at a theatre production, or watching it on video. We feel more intertwined with the plot and some of the characters Asides, mainly Macbeth’s, contain puns which only the audience can understand as a pun, due to this frequent Dramatic Irony.Combining these techniques can effectively keep an audience involved.
The appearance of the murderer at the Banquet has many effects, we know who he is, and assume something ominous to happen (Dramatic Irony again) but to the Lords, who are all finely dressed, must wonder who this haggard commoner is, and why he is talking to the king. The murderer tells Macbeth of what has taken place, who seethes over the escape of Fleance, as he was the one to supersede him.As the banquet scene begins we question what is happening to Macbeth, as before when he killed Duncan he was engulfed in guilt, but now, after orchestrating the murder of his best friend he feels nothing, however could this have something to do with him committing the deed in person? The Banquet is of great importance to Macbeth as it is his first formal gathering with all his Lords since he became the new King, he needs to make a good impression so that he appears to be worthy of the throne, despite the fact he knows and we know that he isn’t.Macbeth says that he will “play the humble host. ” This is a pun to the audience, to the guests it appears he is being sincere, to us, the Dramatic Irony of knowing he killed Duncan lets us in on the little joke.
He uses the word “play” as he is acting, he knows he is not worthy of the throne, but he will act the way his position dictates. Also the choice of using the word play contributes to a theme which is present throughout the tale, the sense of appearance versus reality, and that all is not what it seems.At the beginning of the scene the Macbeths are trying to mingle with their esteemed guests, they are under a lot of pressure to look good, and all is going well until the murderer joins the fray…
It shocks an audience when you have seen someone murdered, only to have the killer appear at a gathering as high profile as this. The murderer is incongruous with his surround, emphasising the shocking nature of his presence.After the murderer tells Macbeth of what he has accomplished, Macbeth replies with “Thou art the best o’ th’ cut-throats” He praises this man for his deed, and he is initially overcome with relief, which is a dramatic contrast to when he dispatched of Duncan, where he was overcome with guilt, this does not fit in with his earlier actions during the play and is a huge character change, but perhaps as he did not commit the deed in person he could be feeling more detached, it makes us as an audience feel surprised and drawn in, eager to see how the story develops this is the start of what seems to be a role reversal between Lady Macbeth and himself, for at the start of the play Lady Macbeth was by far the more domineering character and she held Macbeth in the palm of her hand, but now things start to change.The rest of the conversation relays how Fleance escaped from the murderers, Macbeth exclaims “then here comes my fit again, I had else been perfect” Use of the word fit could mean the return of his madness, much like when he followed the supernatural dagger to Duncan.
He goes on to say “But now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound to saucy doubts and fears. ” Here he uses alliteration emphasising the claustrophobic atmosphere of the sentence, before asking “But Banquo’s safe? ” the first murderer replies, “safe in a ditch he bides. ” Choice of the word ‘safe’ contrasts effectively with the topic of the question, as it tends to be associated with the security of the person in question, however in this context it refers to the security of Macbeth in Banquo’s absence which is an effective technique utilised by Shakespeare.Macbeth says then “there the grown serpent lies. Which creates a snake like image, which an audience previously remembers Lady Macbeth doing, here he is shown echoing her speech, putting further emphasis on their gradual role reversal, also “serpent” could to be interpreted as Banquo was the trouble, fully grown, it is his son which shall grow and develop into a beast with his guidance, with Banquo gone, he cannot instruct him and dictate his development, however we must still be cautious.
After the murderer departs Lady Macbeth reminds her husband of what he should be doing, he wishes his guests well and implores them to enjoy their meal. Then he mentions Banquo, almost tempting fate, and it is that actions which appears to make Banquo appear.Macbeth sees Banquo sitting in his throne, but no one else can, Macbeth does not realise until the ghost turns around that it is in fact Banquo. The Irony of Banquo sitting in the throne, is that although Macbeth is now King, Banquo was far more deserving, however this could also be perceived as a premonition of what his son will inevitably accomplish.
Macbeth does not sit as he thinks this is only too real as he feels that he has a right to be there, and the audience feel the same at this point. What could cause the ghost’s appearance could be guilt lurking in Macbeth’s mind, it could be his madness, where when his “fit comes again” is a prelude to insanity.Nevertheless it could be the power of the witches, which courses unseen across the skies, mocking, taunting him. However it is easier to believe it is madness as the audience remembers the fanciful dagger which led him to Duncan. The ghost has a huge impact on the play, in this scene so many things take place immediately after another which helps captivate an audience.
I think this ghost is not Duncan because Banquo was Macbeth’s best friend, it was more of a betrayal, which could also be the reason that he couldn’t physically kill Banquo, it is more interesting for an audience and it in a way confirms that there is no going back for Macbeth, he has chosen this path, and can do nothing other than proceed further.Which of you have done this? ” Macbeth shouts when first laying eyes on Banquo’s ghost. At this point the Lords have not a clue as to what he is talking about, and their expressions are that of puzzled men. They appear quite confused and wonder what Macbeth is talking about.
We feel that Macbeth is going mad, until we realise that we can also see the ghost. This puzzles an audience but at this point we feel that maybe the ghost is real and targeting Macbeth, or maybe we are more inside Macbeth’s head than any other character in the play.Macbeth panics and shouts aloud for all to hear “Thou canst not say I did it; never shake thy gory locks at me. The Lords have absolutely no idea what Macbeth is doing, however the audience (if this version of the play has the ghost seen as an actor) can empathise with what Macbeth is going through, however if the ghost si not present then they will feel as the Lords do. Gory is an obvious reference to blood, one of the many that occur throughout the telling of this story. Lady Macbeth thinks her husband is mad, she recalls the time when he followed the fanciful dagger to Duncan, the pace of the story had been very fast until Lady Macbeth intervenes, she draws the attention from Macbeth and focuses it on herself, not too different from when she fainted after knowing of Duncan’s demise.
She tells the guests that this sort of thing is commonplace, always has been, she tries to minimize it and distract the Lord’s attention then turns to her husband and snarls, “Are you a man? ” She challenges his masculinity, reminding us of when she did it to ensure her husband would take Duncan’s life, she does this whenever there is something she needs her husband to do. Yet it does not work this time as Macbeth is convinced he can see Banquo. The audience consequently feels for the Macbeths, they are both very frustrated, Lady Macbeth can’t understand why she can’t force some sense into her husband, while he cannot understand why no one else can see the brutal, ghastly figure before him. In Lady Macbeth’s speech a sense of panic comes across very strongly, she seems very frustrated that Macbeth will not come to his senses.
She is starting to lose her control over Macbeth however Macbeth seems to be steadily gaining more control of his actions, and feels he does not need Lady Macbeth. When addressing the Lords she seemed in control of the situation, but then there is a rapid decline in her composure. Macbeth proposes a toast to Banquo, assuming the ghost has gone, almost feeling victorious over it. In an almost mocking way he proposes this toast and then the ghost returns, again Macbeth rants with a very fast paced speech that adds to the atmosphere.
He Mentions that “thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold. ” Which again has the blood imagery that is present throughout. The pace of the speech portrays a sense of panic.The Lords seem to grow weary of Macbeth’s constant battling with this unseen spectre, there is also a mixture of some feeling intrigued by this, others annoyed, others sceptical about Macbeth’s leadership qualities and others slightly amused by it all.
The audience would at this point feel excited as Macbeth may tell the Lords of what he has done and he may have his cover blown, this keeps us absorbed in the story and excited at the prospect of Macbeth’s exposure. “I am a man again” Macbeth exclaims after Banquo’s ghost finally disappears.Beforehand Macbeth had said, if you were to attack me as any creature like “the armed rhinoceros, or the Hycran tiger” I would courageously battle you, but I cannot handle this un-dead spectre. Here we are reminded of his former heroic ways, in battle and what a vast contrast it is to this new, deranged figure. I am a man again” refers to Macbeth being himself again, not feeling challenged by this spirit. He then tries to continue with the evening but it is too late, as Lady Macbeth says, “You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting with most admired disorder.
” She is furious with her husband, she fails to see how he could do this to her, she feels he targeted her with his actions, yet Macbeth doesn’t understand why she is so irate with him, and why no one else saw the figure. When Macbeth is questioned by Ross his wife covers for him yet again, she did this earlier in the banquet and during the Duncan scenes, she constantly has to do this throughout the play, she suggests the Lords leave and they do.The ending of the scene seems totally hectic, Lady Macbeth is nearly twitching with rage, the day has been ruined and all is not well. After the Banquet is over Macbeth and his wife are left alone.
From here to the end of the scene, Macbeth references to blood about five times. He is becoming slightly paranoid about everything around him. The blood is in a way haunting him like Banquo, yet he feels the solution is to get rid of more people to put his mind at rest. The effect his has on us is that we no longer feel for Macbeth, in fact we feel more for lady Macbeth at this point which shows how dramatic their role reversal has become. Macbeth is no longer feeling remorse or guilt, he has become ruthless and we feel more detached from him then we did earlier in the play.Lady Macbeth has less of a role in Macbeth’s plans, he no longer needs her to instruct him about what his plans require or what his plans even are.
He is now the dominating factor of the pair. Then the in the final line Macbeth says “We are yet but young in deed” The significance of this is he means that they have only began their bloody path of murder, more killings will come and is a very ominous final line, We know more death will follow and is a sort of cliffhanging scene which makes a viewer eager to continue watching. To sum the Banquet scene is very dramatic, there are a few main points that I feel reflect the tension in the scene; first would be the murderer’s appearance, from an audiences’ perspective it is quite shocking and interesting.What is also interesting is at what time of day the scene is set, nighttime, there is use of pathetic fallacy here as the setting reflects the events in the scene, dark and foreboding. Then the obvious main dramatic part was the occurrence of Banquo’s ghost. In the production I saw the audience could see the ghost, not only that but he became more gory each time we saw him, his condition worsened.
Some productions do not use a ghost, which can be effective in making Macbeth seem more insane, but it has a tendency to detach an audience from his character so I prefer being able to see the ghost. I think in general this is an excellent core scene for a story; it has everything you would need to build tension and a dramatic atmosphere, and is very enjoyable whether being read or seen.