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The Character Of Macbeth In William Shakespeare's Play

3416 words - 14 pages

The Character of Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Play

Macbeth

Macbeth was most likely written in 1606, early in the reign of James
I, who had been James VI of Scotland before he succeeded to the
English throne in 1603. James was a patron of Shakespeare’s acting
company, and of all the plays Shakespeare wrote under James’s reign,
Macbeth most clearly reflects the playwright’s close relationship with
the sovereign. In focusing on Macbeth, a figure from Scottish history,
Shakespeare paid homage to his king’s Scottish lineage. Additionally,
the witches’ prophecy that Banquo will found a line of kings is a
clear nod to James’ family’s claim to have descended from the
historical Banquo. In a larger sense, the theme of bad versus good
kingship, embodied by Macbeth and Duncan, respectively, would have
resonated at the royal court, where James was busy developing his
English version of the theory of divine right.

The language throughout the play is constantly troubled, and audience
members in the Elizabethan era would have understood this. For
example, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are emotionally troubled by the
killing of King Duncan. This comes across in William Shakespeare’s
ability to portray this frustration. Where there is meant to be 10
beats per line in verse writing, Shakespeare adds another beat in
lines where the characters are troubled, creating a frustrated or
troubled speech; 11 beats per line. Audience members of the time would
have picked up on this language fault, showing Shakespeare’s keen
ambition to show the audience how characters on stage are feeling. He
constantly keeps the audience attention in mind, and his intentions
for the play are made clear because he can communicate each
character’s emotional journey.

The conventions of a play like Macbeth are very clear, as Shakespeare
presents them to the audience throughout. For example, when Macbeth is
on stage on his own he has several monologues. These can be perceived
as the character talking to the audience, as this empowers the
audience, and the reader of the play. When characters are alone on
stage they gain a greater meaning of the art form, and can relate to
both the character on stage, and any political or cultural factor
involved within the play. Moments like this in the play are easy for
the audience to understand, Shakespeare clearly lays out the form for
the audience throughout the play and this helps develop the meaning.

Macbeth is a famously violent play. Interestingly, most of the
killings take place offstage, but throughout the play the characters
provide the audience with gory descriptions of the carnage, from the
opening scene where the captain describes Macbeth and Banquo wading in
blood on the battlefield, to the endless references to the
bloodstained hands of Macbeth and his wife. The...

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