Use Of Tension In William Shakespeare's Macbeth

1965 words - 8 pages

Shakespeare´s play 'Macbeth' is set in the heart of Scotland. The king
at the time is king Duncun, a noble and honest king. He has two sons
and many Thanes and noble men, one being Macbeth. Macbeth has fought
his way up the ranks of the army to become one of Duncun´s most
trusted Lords, but an encounter with three witches puts wickedness
into the heart of an otherwise noble and loyal man.

In act 1, scene 1, a scene of three witches confronts us. This alone
would have created mystery and fright to the audience, setting the
scene of the play to come. 'Macbeth' was written in a period when
there was a high interest in witchcraft and the supernatural. People
were confused and scared by the supernatural, so the sight of three
witches would have told the audience that the play would be full of
evil and lies. This scene is a short opening to the play. It is long
enough to awaken curiosity, but not to satisfy it. The mood of the
play is set, although the action and the introduction of the leading
characters do not start until the next scene.

In act 1, scene 2, we learn about the tough battle which Macbeth and
Banquo have fought, and win for the victory for Scotland. Duncun
rewards Macbeth for his courage by giving him the title 'thane of

"with his former title greet Macbeth."

Let us not forget that a 'most disloyal traitor' first owned this

This scene tells us that Macbeth is thought of as a brave and valiant
man because he has killed so many people and won the battle almost
single-handedly. The language used is quite horrific and the deaths of
Macbeth´s victims are explained in all their gory detail. This may not
have shocked the audience but it would tell the audience that such
horror so early on in the play would ensure much more gore to follow.

The audience knows that Macbeth has been entitled 'thane of Cawdor´
before Macbeth actually is told himself. This creates dramatic irony
that, in turn, creates tension in the next scene.

In act 1, scene 3, the witch´s malice and magic is shown, as they
await Macbeth and Banquo on the lonely moor. The two men hear the
witches prophecies with amazement. They tell that Macbeth shall be
'Thane of Cawdor´,

"Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!"

And that he shall become king,

"…that shalt be king hereafter…"

They tell Banquo that he will be father of kings but will not be king

"Thou shalt get kings"

Banquo does not dwell on the witches´ prophecies but Macbeth is
entranced. The audience can judge the witches better than Macbeth can,
we know that Macbeth has become the thane of Cawdor because he is
brave and not because of the witches magic, and we are not surprised,
as Macbeth is, when Ross calls him by his title. Macbeth believes now
that because one prediction is true...

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