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Staging Symbolism In The Scottish Play

1161 words - 5 pages

“Perhaps the most visual of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Macbeth is a play of illusion, visions, and spectacles” (Diehl 191). While the spoken words of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth (The Scottish Play) are important, the staging, portraying the most important parts of symbolism versus realism in performances of The Scottish Play, should be used to enhance the development of characters.
The contrast between symbolism and realism in stage productions of The Scottish Play is shown through the staging of the performances, especially through the use of visuals. According to Faith Nostbakken, an instructor of theological essays, explains that “the rise of film and television represents the greatest ...view middle of the document...

These gestures allow the actors to mold the environment around them and their character while physical prosody shows the invisible, symbolic, aspects of The Scottish Play. Looks can deceive; the characters manipulate the meanings of their surroundings to get what they want the meanings to be. When Duncan goes to Macbeth’s castle, he observes that “This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto our gentle senses” (Shakespeare 1.6.1-3). He assumes that the castle, which is nice on the outside (in contrast to the coldness and darkness of the interior), means that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are good people (which the audience knows is not true). This manipulation of environment can imply power without directly showing or stating the power. At the feast, Lady Macbeth sits upstage on a throne while Macbeth and the others sit downstage. This symbolizes her power over Macbeth and the others. All of this is symbolism shown through imagery.
Gestures are another way symbolism can be shown through action. As the story progresses, “Macbeth’s actions become progressively stronger” (Hourantier 136) and “Lady Macbeth’s gestural movements become slower and slower, tracking the image of the Spirit that is incarnated within her” (Hourantier 137). Lady Macbeth is the strong one in the beginning then begins to fade as Macbeth rises to power. At the same time though, Lady Macbeth understands that appearances are not always reality. She tells Macbeth to “look like th’ innocent flower, but be the serpent under ‘t” (Shakespeare 1.5.64-65) so that people will not suspect him. The assumption of Macbeth’s intentions as good are being based off of appearances. These appearances can be interpreted not only by the characters, but also by the audience. For example, both the characters and the audience get to decide for themselves whether the witches are representative of the devil, symbols of evil, symbols of destiny, or harmless old women. In many cases, such as the apparitions (which Macbeth think show that no man can kill him), the characters interpret these appearances and symbols incorrectly. What they forget is that there is more than the physical world. Because their surroundings are all they can see, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth forget about spirituality. Even if they do not get caught for their evil deeds, karma will come around to get them. Macbeth does not accept that he is avoiding this confrontation of the spiritual world until he sees Banquo’s ghost. Ethics and internal...

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