The opening scene of any play is extremely important because it can play a major role in establishing key elements throughout the rest of the performance. The main elements are the characters, themes, language, settings and plot. The audience can form a basic idea of these elements involved to spark their interest in the play. There is a great deal of contrast between the opening scenes of “Macbeth” and “Romeo and Juliet”, both by William Shakespeare.
The first scene of “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare is very short, but full of impact. The thunder and lightning alone give it a dramatic opening, which grabs the interest of the audience, as it is representative of evil. These dramatic sound effects help to set the eerie and supernatural atmosphere that Shakespeare wanted to create along with the witches. The witches introduce us to a dark, dangerous play, in which the theme of evil is central. The witches say little but we learn a lot about them from this first scene. The mood of the play is set in this opening scene, although the action doesn’t start until the next scene. The presence of supernatural forces in the opening scene of “Macbeth”, provides for much of the play’s dramatic tension and the mounting suspense.
“When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”
This is the opening line of the play “Macbeth”. It immediately draws the audiences attention and captures their imagination, as the supernatural world fascinated people in Elizabethan England. At the time the play was first performed and at the time that Shakespeare was writing it, witchcraft was a great enemy of the state and people became enthralled by these peculiar, suspicious witches. Witch-hunts took place and many people were convicted of being witches and were executed. The witches fit in with the stereotypical perception of witches at that time, including use of familiars like Graymalkin and Paddock.
The use of the supernatural occurs at the beginning of the scene, with three witches explaining that they will meet Macbeth. “When the battle’s lost and won.” This was said by the second witch. The audience have yet to find out what the battle is, however they know that the battle is won by one side and lost by another. Macbeth’s fate is that he will win the battle, but will lose the battle for his soul. This ancient superstition of spirits enhances the play dramatically.
We have come in at the end of the witches meeting, just as they are arranging their next appointment before their familiar spirits call them into the fog and filthy air. From the opening scene we can tell that the witches can foretell the future, and are creating some unpleasant magic, which is to involve Macbeth. This creates suspense for the audience, wandering what is going to happen next. The fact that the witches want to meet Macbeth should raise some suspicion in the audience. The witches first talk about Macbeth in the eighth line, when they explain that they will meet...