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Drama And Character Tension In Act Iii, Scene Iv Of "Macbeth"

2534 words - 10 pages

In Act 3, Scene 4 of Macbeth we are able to identify the disintegration of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s characters in the overwrought scene. Throughout this scene Shakespeare uses a range of techniques to present their conflicting characters, creating dramatic tension. From the darkness of Banquo’s murder in the previous scene, there is a sudden tonal shift, as the scene abruptly changes to the bustle of the banqueting hall. The “Banquet Scene” is one of the most engaging scenes as it may be considered to be the pivotal point of the play. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth need the banquet to be a success as this is the first time they will be presenting themselves as monarchs and the rightful successors to the throne before society. However, this creates a sense of fundamental irony as the audience is aware that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are illegitimate figures and falsely usurped the crown. There is also a sense of comic relief as Macbeth publicly humiliates himself when he is confronted supernaturally by his sins. It is interesting to observe the changes within the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and their shifting relationship after the appearance of Banquo’s ghost.
Shakespeare emphasises the opulent ambience through the lavish descriptions of the banquet. The scene opens with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s warm welcome to the lords as they must “play the humble host,” being an important political stage in their lives. Here Shakespeare uses a metatheatrical reference which is dramatically effective to remind the Jacobean audience the falsity of their roles. As they are illicit figures, it suggests that they oppose the Divine Right of Kings, creating a sense of anxiety by raising dramatic tension. There is an abrupt tonal shift, from the light hearted welcoming of their guests to when the murderer enters. The use of dysphemism generates a dark ambience exposed through the bold description of Banquo’s murder, “20 trenched gashes”. The graphic detail of his brutal murder horrify the Jacobean audience as it is inappropriate considering the murderer embarrasses Banquo and ‘boasts’ about his death. This juxtaposes with the euphemism that Macbeth uses earlier after Duncan’s murder, “Is he dispatched?” This conveys how he is now familiar with murder and no longer troubled by it. Therefore, throughout the scene the ambience varies, intriguing the Jacobean audience by raising suspense and alarm.
It is interesting to consider Macbeth’s reaction and how he feels threatened by the murderer’s news in the Banquet Scene. Macbeth feels a sense of triumph when the murderer informs him that Banquo’s, “throat is cut”. There is also powerful symbolism as Macbeth says to the murderer, “There’s blood upon thy face.” This demonstrates that he has viciously killed Banquo and that his blood can be ‘seen’ on his face by his...

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