William Shakespeare's Use Of Language To Heighten Drama In Macbeth

3857 words - 15 pages

William Shakespeare's Use of Language to Heighten Drama in Macbeth

For my essay I am going to compare the tragedies of Macbeth and Lady
Macbeth and decide whose is the greater. I will look at how
Shakespeare exploits language to heighten drama and tragedy for the
audience.

William Shakespeare wrote 'Macbeth' around the year 1606. It is widely
thought that the play was written for the King of Denmark, who was in
Londonon a visit to his brother-in-law, James I. Shakespeare found the
nucleus of the play in a book, which he used many times in writing his
historical plays: Ralph Holinshed's 'Chronicles of England, Scotland
and Ireland' published in 1577. According to Holinshed, Duncan I was a
weak king, and Macbeth a rival chief with a genuine grievance. Macbeth
had met 'three woman in evil apparel', who had made certain
prophecies. Encouraged by his wife, and aided by a certain Banquo and
some friends, he killed Duncan and reigned honourably for seventeen
years. Also in Holinshed's 'Chronicles' there is a story of an old
warrior chieftain called King Duff, who was murdered by a man called
Donwald and his wife, when the King was staying in their castle as a
guest. Shakespeare combined the two stories in composing the plot of
Macbeth. Although there was a historical Lady Macbeth, she had one
son, Lulach 'the simple', this may explain the child whose brains she
would have 'dash'd out had she so sworn'.

The traditional criteria for a tragedy are that the main character has
to occupy a weighty and well-respected position. The main character
would suffer from a fatal flaw that would eventually lead to their
demise. To speed up this process, external forces would act as
catalysts to the main character's flaw. To display the brutal side of
the main characters' flaw, innocents would suffer. Also, at the main
character's demise, the audience would be moved to feel a certain pity
for the character's inner suffering. Such suffering would be revealed
mainly during 'asides' and 'soliloquies', during which the language
would be particularly poetic. Such moments of language should allow
for the audience to see a window into the character's inner turmoil.

To keep to the traditional tragedy criteria in 'Macbeth', innocents do
suffer. The first is obviously Duncan. Duncan at the beginning of the
play is the King of Scotland and is Macbeth's cousin. Macbeth lingers
outside of the king's chamber, 'whiles I threat, he lives', just
before he murders Duncan. The next innocent to suffer is Macbeth's
best friend Banquo. He convinces the murderers that Banquo is their
enemy and not Macbeth, 'Know that it was he in times past which held
you so under fortune'. He cajoles them in murdering Banquo by saying:
'I will put that business in your bosoms, whose execution takes your
enemy off'. He also states that...

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