Shakespeare’s presentation of Lady Macbeth and the witches Essay
Macbeth is a tragic play written by Shakespeare to entertain King James. As the play is a tragedy the play must have a down fall. There are different themes which are shown through-out the play such as murder, ambition and events that involve supernatural.
Supernatural in presented in the play, because in 1606 when it was preformed people of those days believed in a lot of supernatural, witches and ghosts. These themes play a big part in the play.The play involved king James’ ancestors but King James didn’t not know this as it is based on a true story but Shakespeare changed all the things about the play that would give it away that it involved King James and his family. In act 1 Scene 1 Shakespeare begins with the three witches as it brings the theme of supernatural which people where interested in back then and drags the audience in as they now know that anything could happen.
Pathetic fallacy is used to create tension at the start of the play.The thunder and lightening which connects to the witches and this is the sort of pathetic fallacy that you would expect to see if anything like witches are involved as witches are known to be evil and nasty and this means that the weather links with them and the way they are mysterious and dangerous just like the weather. At the start of the play the three witches are discussing where they should meet again. ‘In thunder, lightening, or in rain? ‘ because of the sort of weather conditions there are, for them to meet again, it is not the best weather so the weather related to the mood that will be happening when the do met again.
This shows the audience what sort of characters they are, showing them they could potentially cause trouble. King James would have reacted to this opening positively as he very much liked witch craft and supernatural things, so this would have interested him straight away. In Act 1 scene 3, the witches tell Macbeth predictions that turn out to happen, he is told that he will become the thane of Cawdor and then soon after become King. ‘Thane of Cawdor..
. that shalt be king hereafter. ‘ The witches tell Macbeth of what is to happen with him in the future and he is told he will become Thane of Glamis and Cawdor and then become King.Macbeth doesn’t know whether to trust the whites yet as he has just met them and think they are a bit weird.
At this point Banquo has seen the witches for the first time and describes them as looking different to the connotations of a female (pretty with make up on and wearing dresses). ‘And yet your beards…
‘ he refers to them having beards, which shows he doesn’t think that they are very lady like, this would have made the audience start to think differently about the witches and that they are a bit abnormal.Also as the only female characters appeared in the play at this moment are the witches, so to the audience they may feel William Shakespeare refers to women as ugly and manly. In act 1 scene V, this is the scene where Lady Macbeth is introduced for the first time. The audience would have been very shocked and ashamed at her manner which she is presented in the first time you meet her.
She is shown to be a very manipulative and strongly ambitious character. ‘Come to my breasts. ‘ The imperative verb ‘come’ shows strongly of her dominance and how commanding she is.She also is shown to seem gothic as she talks about death. ‘.
.. the fatal entrance…
‘ the word ‘fatal’ implies she is speaking of something more than just bad, which shows her as being dangerous. The audience would have been very stunned to have seen a lady act in a manner which was not normal. In act 1 scene Vii, the theme of how women can take control is introduced, as Lady Macbeth is more in charge then Macbeth himself is. Macbeth isn’t sure if he wants to kill King Duncan, so Lady Macbeth becomes very demanding but in a persuasive way and steps in to take charge to persuade him too.Rhetorical questions are used as a persuasive technique. Macbeth asks Lady Macbeth ‘if we should fail? ‘ and her reply ‘We fail? ‘ she is persuading him through that rhetorical question that they will not fail and that she is very determined for him to do it.
It shows Lady Macbeth being in control of the situation also very manipulating. In act 2 ii, this is the scene where the theme of murder is brought into it. Lady Macbeth is presented as big, bold and brave as she has been drinking alcohol it have given her the thought that she is invincible.Lady Macbeth is not in a good state of mind. ‘Hark, peace! ‘ She then sees an owl which used to represent death. So far in the play you have been made to think Lady Macbeth is a strong character, so the fact she was frightened showed that she must be stressing about Macbeth.
Once Lady Macbeth realises what Macbeth has done she calms down and goes back to her normal self. After what he has done, Macbeth starts to show feelings of guilt and regret and that he is starting to feel afraid, ‘I am afraid to think what I have done.In comparison to Lady Macbeth, she does not feel any of the feelings Macbeth feels, ‘A little water clears us off this deed. ‘ Lady Macbeth shows feelings that she is very sure that she is going to get away with what her husband has just done, as she is saying washing the blood of his hands will no longer show what he has done. They way Lady Macbeth is shown to be acting here, would have been a shock to the audience, as back in those days women weren’t known to be involved in anything like that.
In act 3 scene ii, this scene is shown to have a switch around of who is in control.Lady Macbeth starts to feel differently about the murder of King Duncan, ‘Come on. Gentle my lord. ‘ Lady Macbeth’s feelings have changed; she starts to tell Macbeth to keep calm about the Murder which starts to show that she is starting to panic a little. She also refers to him as ‘lord’ which could suggest she is trying to make him feel that he is higher than her. Macbeth has now become in control, ‘After life’s fitful fever, he sleeps well.
‘ Macbeth is now trying to reassure her and persuading Lady Macbeth that King Duncan has gone to a better place.Back in those days it was a stereotype for the men to stay in control not the women and this is what is starting to happen again. In act 3 scene IV, Macbeth is told that Leance escaped and that Banquo was the only one dead. Macbeth’s starts to change his mind once again and is now starting to worry because no one knows the where about of Fleance. As the scene continues Macbeth is shocked to see the ghost of Banquo sitting in his seat, Lady Macbeth again becomes more in control of the situation as Macbeth starts to lose control a little and Lady Macbeth trys to keep the situation in control.Sit, worthy friends.
My lord is often thus… ‘ she has taken control and demands for everyone to sit down as Macbeth won’t because he can see the ghost and starts to lose control. She makes excuses for him, ‘my lord of often thus’ she explains he normally acts in this way, to not make him look like he has gone mad. The dramatic device here is the way Macbeth is the only one who can see the Banquo’s ghost; this would have made the audience also very anxious as they wouldn’t have been able to see anything, so this would have caught the attention of the audience very quickly.
Scene V, is a speech from Queen Hecate. The audience would have reacted to this in a respectful way. The queen is in charge of what she has to say, she speaks down to the witches, and the queen is shown to be very powerful. The audience would have respected this. Act 4 scene I, in this scene the witches are helping and comforting Macbeth, they call up three Apparitions who appear in symbolic form.
Macbeth cannot understand what is meant by them, but William Shakespeare expects the audience to understand (dramatic irony. The witches turn and cause alarm to Macbeth as they show him the eight kings, ‘Show his eyes and grieve his heart… ‘ the witches try to upset Macbeth in showing him the eight kings and him not being one of them. They already told him he was to become king, but now are showing him he won’t.
Back then the way the female characters have been playing with the male characters head by being controlling and malicious would have been a huge shock for the audience because the women role was not to get involved or tell the male figures what to do.Act 5, scene I, Lady Macbeth is starting to become stressed and panicky again about King Duncan’s murder, she has started to have nightmares about it. The doctor is rushed to see her, as she is weakening in strength. The audience would have agreed with this change in her character as she shouldn’t have come up with the plan to kill the King in the first place, she had done it out of greed. In Scene V, Macbeth realises what Lady Macbeth has actually done, committed suicide, his reaction to this is negative as he starts to speak of the most delusional words and is no fit state.
Liar and slave! ‘ He mocks him as he calls the messenger a ‘slave,’ he has become upset and is now taking it out on someone else. Lady Macbeth’s character shows that she was an act. She brought out a character that wasn’t really herself and tried to make herself look big and powerful and in control, which she couldn’t have been because she wouldn’t have committed suicide which just goes to show that she wasn’t a true character, she manipulated people, when really she wasn’t as tough as she thought she was.