Macbeth

How is Lady Macbeth presented as a powerful character? – SPEAKS IN IAMBIC PENTAMETERthis immediately makes her appear powerful as it gives her a more intelligent and developed form e.g – “who dares receive it other as we shall make our griefs and clamour roar upon his death?”- SHE HAS A SOLILOQUY (and many of them in the play) in Shakespeare time there was great inequality between men and women so its unusual for a women to be given an inner monologue for her perspective to be seen. This shows lady Macbeth is powerful as she has many in the playIn equality in Shakespeare time is shown in the quote : “Unsex me here” as it shows lady Macbeth feels the need to be freed of her femininity in order to kill Duncan.- HER LANGUAGE WHEN TAKING ABOUT REGICIDEShe used words such as “cruelty” and “blood” which shows she is powerful as it shocks the audience and subverts their usual prejudiced views of women (in Shakespeares time) as she is talking about regicide with not apparent fear of reprisal. Especially as regicide was unthinkable to the majority of the audience.-SHE IMPLIES THAT SHE CAN COMMAND THE “THICK NIGHT” AND BLOCK OUT “HEAVEN, TURNING HER BACK ON GODas she can control the night, the audience are reminded of the 3 witches. In Shakespeare time witchcraft was a sin and witches were burnt.The quotes: “[command the] thick night” and “[so that] heaven [could not] peep through the blanket of the dark”suggest that she is powerful as she can ignore religion and shut out heaven – this would be shocking blasphemy to the audience -THE WAY SHE TREATS MACBETHlady Macbeth mocks and belittles her socially superior husband e.g- “when you durst do it you become the man”The quote reflects gender stereotypes but also shows that lady Macbeth is powerful as she mocks the “great Macbeth” and “worthy Cawdor” who at the start of the play is considered a brave warrior – CHANTING though she often speaks in iambic pentameter, her language often devolves into a chant like rhythm, reminding the audience of the witches.- before Duncan is killed the chants could suggest she is over-powered by ambition – after Duncan is killed the chants could suggest she is possessed by paranoia and is going mad- the chanting nerves the audience, automatically making her powerful.
How is lady Macbeth presented as a less powerful character? – “UNSEX ME HERE”the quote suggests that lady Macbeth is unsatisfied with her current form and feels she needs to be stripped of her femininity in order to have the courage and power to kill Duncan.- this reflects gender stereotypes in Shakespeare time – shows she isn’t powerful as she is as she feels she needs to be changed.-WEAK HYPOCRITE she is presented as a weak hypocrite as later on in the play she admits that she couldn’t kill Duncan as he “resembled my father as he slept”- this shows her own weaknesses and hypocrisies and she told Macbeth he wasn’t a man unless he killed Duncan “When you durst do it you become the man”
How are the witches presented in Act 1, Scene 1? – “[THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. ENTER 3 WITHCES]”the use of pathetic fallacy reflects the dark mood and sets the scene – suggesting that the witches are evil characters.- “WHEN SHALL WE THREE MEET AGAININ THUNDER, LIGHTNING OR IN RAIN?”audience don’t know what’s going on as the scene opens at the end of their meeting – prompts curiosityLinks to themes of confusion throughout the play- TROCHAIC TETRAMETREspeak in trochaic tetrameter (opposite of iambic pentameter, which is used for noble characters)- suggests they are evil characters and reinforces the supernatural themee.g – “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”the last line doesn’t leave the audience knowing much more than they did at the opening of the scene – reinforces the theme of confusion- CONTEXTin Shakespeare time witchcraft was a sin and witches were burnt the audience would be shocked to see the witches in the play and wouldn’t like them based on ideas about witchcraft at the time
How is Macbeth presented as an unheroic character? – CONTRAST OF BRAVE WORKDS AND A BREAK IN RHYME SCHEME”The mind I sway by and the heart I bearshall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear” – A5, S3- the line is almost entirely iambic pentameter, so the audience expect it to be a rhyming couplet.- But, the final words on each line “BEAR” and “FEAR”, whilst appearing as though they should rhyme, don’t when spoken aloud. – Shakespeare contrasts macbeth’s bravo words with a break in the rhyming scheme – this could suggest that Macbeth wishes to appear brave but doesn’t actually feel that way. – Therefore, Macbeth is not actually brave and so not a heroic character.- “BRING ME NO MORE REPORTS; LET THEM FLY ALL” – A5, S3- though Macbeth’s words seem brave, almost arrogant, shakespeare contrasts this with structure to show that macbeth may be more unsettled than he seems.- the ENJAMBMENT throughout the scene gives the impression that macbeth is rambling, suggesting that he is more unsettled than he seemed, so he is not a hero.- this links with the theme that things are not as they seem
How is macbeth presented as ambitious? – “Why do I yield that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair?” – A1, S3- asks himself why he won’t give up on trying to be king, even though it makes him look bad- Rhetorical question- audience would have been shocked by macbeths trust of the witches as In Shakespeare time witchcraft was a sin.- “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, only vaulting ambition” – A1, S7.- his ambition is the only thing pushing him to kill Duncan.- verb ‘vaulting’ emphasises extremity of his ambition as is it suggests that it is ‘leaping’.- the audience would have been shocked that macbeth would even consider killing Duncan as they believed in the diving right of kings
How is macbeth presented as a tragic hero? – BRAVE SOLDIER (BEGINNING)in the beginning of the play macbeth is a brave soldier and is referred to as “brave macbeth”- whilst perhaps still brave at the end of the play, macbeth has lost the primary attribute of a hero – goodness – and has instead become a courageous villain. – instead he is presented as a tragic hero – this would explain his journey from hero to villain in such as short space of time, he bought his own downfall by murdering Duncan.
How is lady macbeth presented as ambitious? “UNSEX ME HERE” – A1, S5- she wants to be stripped of her femininity in order to kill Duncan- ‘unsex’ is a violent verb, suggesting the extremity of her ambition (an elizabethan audience would be shocked by this as it was unusual for a woman to stray from her stereotypical role)”WHAT HATH QUENCHED THEM, HATH GIVEN ME FIRE” – A1, S7- what stopped macbeth killing Duncan has given her more ambition.- noun ‘fire’ is extreme and powerful – reflects that her ambition is also extreme and powerful- audience would be shocked that lady macbeth was taking macbeth’s place as it would be more fitting with stereotypes that the man should do it.- they’d also be shocked that she would kill Duncan as they believed in the divine right of kings

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