1) What is the definition of mature tragedy and what are the features of Macbeth that is typical of this genre? Essentially, a ‘mature’ tragedy is defined as a tragedy whereby the protagonist meets his or her demise as a direct result of an inherent flaw in character, or a misdeed committed on his or her behalf. Shakespeare has written four main ‘mature’ tragedies, and all embody one essential factor: the dramatic, self-constructed collapse of a ‘hero’ type character.
To contrast, an ‘immature’ tragedy is where the cause of a character’s downfall is purely circumstantial, and not in any way a result of the protagonist or a main character’s actions. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the epitome of an ‘immature’ tragedy, as Romeo and Juliet – although young and ‘foolish’ – did not end their lives due to flaws in character, but rather met their end on the account of the situation at hand. Macbeth is known as a ‘mature’ tragedy because the play is primarily founded upon Macbeth’s weaknesses and flaws as a human.
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Throughout the play, Shakespeare steadily reveals Macbeth’s yearnings and desires coupled with his apparent ambition to become king. Initially, Shakespeare portrays Macbeth as a valiant and glorious hero, but this illustrious image of Macbeth decays over the course of the play into something far more sinister as he goes against his own nature, eventually succumbing to his ‘deep and dark desires’. Macbeth is wrought with flaws and carries out numerous ill deeds, which inevitably brings about his downfall. In this way, Macbeth is a ‘mature’ tragedy. ) The author refers to the critical maxim employed by Shakespeare in Macbeth. What does this mean? A critical maxim is broadly defined as an expression of ‘general truth’ or principle (“Words charged with meaning and associations”). The critical maxim referred to in Macbeth is the concept of “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”. This motif readily manifests throughout the play in various forms, recurring many times; sometimes as a representation of ‘All is not as it seems’, and sometimes coinciding with the prominent ‘Good vs Evil’ theme of Macbeth.
The maxim is introduced by the witches in the first scene, and then repeated by Macbeth in the following. In Act 1, Scene 6, Duncan indirectly refers to this maxim. While he does not repeat the words exactly, he describes the air and atmosphere of Inverness as sweet and pleasant, while in reality, there is a profound dramatic irony here as Shakespeare has positioned the audience to know that Duncan will be killed in Macbeth’s castle ??? the very place that he describes as being welcoming and pleasing to the senses.
His words and the dramatic irony in this scene are a direct reference to the “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” maxim. 3) Identify the examples of dark imagery employed in the play and express in dot points. Shakespeare’s use of ‘dark imagery’ is mainly represented in three fashions; imagery of sleep, imagery of nighttime, and imagery of hell and/or demons. ???”There’s husbandry in heaven, their candles are all out. ” Shakespeare frequently uses imagery of a dark and dreary nighttime, entertaining the concept that mankind has an inherent fear of darkness; implying that evil and sinister deeds occur late into the night.
Although nighttime in itself is not malevolent, Shakespeare writes nighttime as having strong connotations with all things evil and sinister. ???”Come, thick Night, and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of Hell. ” Lady Macbeth calls upon a dark and pale night in hopes of cloaking the identities of her and Macbeth, which is resonant with the concept that ‘ill-deeds are committed in darkness’. However, her reference to Hell strengthens the imagery above and beyond a simple dark nighttime, foreshadowing the hellish and blasphemous deeds that will be committed the following night with the expected murder of Duncan. “Stars, hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires. ” The imagery here is of the stars glowing dimly, or blotted out by thick clouds, allowing Macbeth’s desires to remain unseen, his actions and thoughts concealed in darkness. In Macbeth’s following words, he also reveals that he wishes for darkness so that he will not have to witness his own hand committing the murder of Duncan. ???”And yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp. ” Imagery in this line is obvious ??? a lantern smothered by an intensely dark night.
In this line, Shakespeare re-introduces the ever-present ‘Good vs. Evil’ motif. He poses an interesting question to the audience at this point: Is darkness (evil) more powerful and prevalent than light (good)? ???”Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse the curtained sleep;” Again, a reference to evil deeds and the nighttime. ‘Wicked dreams’ could very well also conjure imagery of witchcraft, which is also strongly associated with evil. The word ‘curtained’ is either in reference to curtains drawn around a bed, or closed eyelids in sleep (the eyelids as ‘curtains for the eyes’). “… alarumed by his sentinel the wolf, whose howl’s his watch” Here, Shakespeare personifies death. Macbeth speaks about death as though it is a sleeping person, one who will be awoken by the howl of the wolf on guard. The imagery of a wolf is indeed sinister, as wolves were considered vicious, vile beasts, and an ill-omen. 4) Explain the biblical allusions and discuss how they can be associated with action in Macbeth. An allusion occurs when an author refers to another text in their piece. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses allusions pertaining to the bible in several places.
One such allusion can be observed in Act 2, Scene 2 where Macbeth states: “What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes. ” This is in reference to Matthew 18:9: “If thine eye cause thee to offend, pluck it out. ” Another notable biblical allusion is used by Shakespeare again in Act 2, Scene 2, as soon as Duncan’s lifeless body is discovered: “Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope, The Lord’s anointed Temple, and stole thence the life o’th’ building! ” This pertains to the concept introduced in Corinthians in the bible, which states that the human body is ‘the temple of the living God’.
In one sense, this means that Duncan’s body has been cut open by a murderer (‘Stole thence the life’), and is also in mention of the king’s role as appointed by God. Common Elizabethan perception was that the king was directly chosen by God, so killing the king would be a sacrilegious act and an act against God himself (‘Most sacrilegious murder’). Shakespeare seems to make a strong connection between the Adam and Eve story of Genesis with the relationship of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Although there are no direct references, quotations or similar wording to the bible, the elationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is strikingly similar as that of Adam and Eve. Adam is tempted to taste the fruit from the forbidden tree, but does not act upon this desire until Eve urges him to do so. 5) In contrast to the dark imagery Shakespeare also employs light imagery. Which examples are given in this set of notes and what is their effect? Light imagery, although present, is not as often written in Macbeth as dark imagery. Where darkness and shadow is present, Shakespeare usually employs light imagery as a contrast to dark imagery rather than as a standalone motif.
An example of such a circumstance occurs in Act 2, Scene 4, where the conversation between Ross and the Old Man reveals imagery of light being shut out from the world. The ‘light’ they speak of refers to all that is good and natural, represented by the sun and sunlight. However, it is a dark day with foul weather and the two speak as though the sun’s seeming absence is due to the recent event of Duncan’s murder. 6) Clothes are also a well-used metaphor in the play. Summarize the examples given and comment on the effect of this use of metaphor on the audience.
Imagery of clothing is seen several times through Macbeth, although this metaphor is much more subtle and is used sparingly in comparison to the metaphors pertaining to light/darkness. Imagery and metaphors associated with clothing are incorporated because the audience naturally connects with the idea quickly – the concept is not as abstract as ‘light’ and ‘dark’, but far more tangible. ???” The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me in borrowed robes? ” Every metaphor in regard to clothing is simple and straight-forward in it’s purpose, rather than abstract or poetic.
Here, Macbeth simply states that the Thane of Cawdor is still alive and questions why the king has bestowed the title upon him. ???”Faith here’s an English tailor come hither, for stealing out of a French hose. ” In this line, Shakespeare makes a cultural reference. As a joke, it was said that tailors made clothes purposely small and tight to conserve materials, and kept the leftover cloth. In the Elizabethan era, ‘French Hose’ was a full and wide pair of pants ??? the suggestion being that the English tailor had re-shaped it and stolen the leftover cloth. ???”Lest our old robes sit easier than our new! Physically, this line is in reference to the new robes Macbeth will be inheriting during his coronation at Scone. Metaphorically, Macduff means to imply that he fears the old reign (of Duncan, imagery of comfortable and worn in clothing) will prove to be more prosperous than the new reign (that of Macbeth). ???”New honors come upon him, like our strange garments, cleave not to the mould” Again, the imagery of new clothing in opposition to old clothing. This line means to say that ‘new clothes’ are ill fitted to a body until accustomed to them (worn in).
This is synonymous with Macbeth’s ever-changing titles throughout the play ??? constantly wearing new ‘clothes’ (titles/roles) which do not rightfully belong do him and thus do not fit. ???”I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people, which would be worn now in their newest gloss, not cast aside so soon” Macbeth likens his newly-gained title of ‘Thane of Cawdor’ to a new set of clothes. He admits that he may not be ready to be king, and so, he may not be ready for a ‘new set’ of clothes. ???”His title hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe upon a dwarfish thief. This line, stated by Angus, supports the metaphor in the previous quotation. In essence, Angus believes the same as Macbeth in that he may have gained the title of king much too soon, and before he was adequately ready to assume the role (imagery of clothes that are large and difficult to fill out, just as the position of king is a difficult position to fulfill). 7) How does the sleep motif demonstrate the relationship between conscience, action and consequence? What is ironical about Macbeth’s utterance that he shall sleep no more? What is sleep compared with (figuratively) in this play?
Imagery and metaphors associated with sleep are commonplace throughout Macbeth. Sleep as a motif is used in correlation to conscience, action and consequence. The line; “The innocent sleep; sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care…” is in reference to the pleasantries of sleep. Sleep is described as a peace that relieves one of worries, healing both the conscience and mind. Following the murder of Duncan, Macbeth proclaims in a moment of torment that he has ‘murdered sleep’ and that he shall ‘sleep no more’ as a result of his actions.
This is implicit that he will he will never be consoled over this misdeed, and the murder will plague his nightmares and never again grant him a peaceful sleep. In relation to this, Duncan was also murdered as he was sleeping ??? in a very vulnerable state. Baring this in mind, Macbeth could state that he shall never sleep again for fear that someone will come and take his life during the night. Ironically, later within Macbeth, Lady Macbeth also suffers from nightmares and insomnia despite her clinical attitude and relative calm after the murder has been committed.
Her guilt manifests itself in her dreams, resulting in a lack of sleep as well as sleepwalking. During her sleepwalking, overwhelmed with madness caused by her suppressed, mounting guilt, Lady Macbeth takes her own life. Synonymous with this idea, sleep and death are compared to one another in the play as Macbeth is almost envious of Duncan’s death, describing it as a long and peaceful sleep after a tiresome life; “Duncan in his grave, after life’s fitful fever he sleeps well. A similar comparison occurs in Macduff’s words where he likens sleep to lying in a grave by dubbing sleep ‘death’s counterfeit’: “Malcolm! Awake! Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit, and look on death itself! ” 8) What does nature or the natural represent? How does Shakespeare underpin the violence and potential for violence in the Macbeths as a result of their appeals to nature? Nature and all things natural play a particularly prominent role throughout Macbeth. The behavior of nature is altered relative to the actions of the human world, i. e. hings in nature are overturned by a disturbance in the natural human order, such as the horses eating one another and the owl killing the falcon following the assassination of Duncan. Nature in Macbeth is also predominately associated with light imagery, order and balance. Macbeth’s actions are reflected in the natural world through the weather and animal behavior, which is in line with common Elizabethan thought at the time. Later on in the play, order is restored upon Macbeth’s defeat at the hands of Macduff. 9) Which line in the opening scene exemplifies the theme of equivocation and how?
An equivocation is a statement (usually false) with a double meaning, said with the intention to mislead or remain ambiguous. In the opening scene of Macbeth, the three witches state: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair. ” This line is an equivocation because it implies that fair and foul are the same thing, or are likened to each other and therefore both have a double meaning. This line implies deception and ambiguity. Such a case is how Macbeth is appointed to succeed Duncan as king, a role associated with holiness and light, and turned out to be a murderous, bloodthirsty tyrant.
Shakespeare thoroughly uses equivocation throughout Macbeth, but it is perhaps most predominant in Act 2, Scene 3, where the Porter speaks extensively about equivocation, using alcohol as a metaphor: “It provokes and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but takes away the performance. Therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery. ” Banquo also makes a reference to equivocation, warning Macbeth about the witches and their prophecies, realizing that their words could take on a double meaning: “The instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence. 10) What is the effect of using light rhyming couplets for the witches’ incantations on our appreciation of their dramatic function? The witches’ incantations are all written in rhyming couplets, typically with seven syllables per line. These words are said easily and flow together well. The format of the incantations lends itself well to being sung or chanted. In addition to this, these lines being chanted strongly reinforces the ‘evil’ and ‘sinister’ intentions of the witches, as well as conjuring a deeply ominous atmosphere.
It is probable that the witches speak with emphasis on every odd syllable (“Though his bark cannot be lost”) in order to distinguish themselves from the other characters in the play. They speak in a distinctly different rhythm to the normal humans and in significantly shorter sentences. 11) How is the number 3 important to the characterization of the witches? The number three occurs with the witches multiple times, including during their incantation: “Thrice the brindled cat hath mewed. Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined. Three and all multiples of three are considered important and above all magical numbers amongst the witches. Since the early days of witchcraft and paganism, three has been an integral part of the practice, such as the ‘Three-fold law’. Incidentally, Macbeth commits three murders; that of King Duncan, Banquo, and Lady Macduff. Macbeth also receives three prophecies from the witches: Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and then king. Finally, it should be noted that during the final apparition of the witches, a line of eight kings is shown along with a mutilated Banquo. So, there are three groups of three.
This is supported by a united chant of the witches: “Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine, and thrice again to make up nine. ” 12) What is the dramatic function of the ambiguous prophecies? The witches’ three prophecies at the beginning of the play are the foundation upon which Macbeth is written. Importantly, these ambiguous promises are the primary source of action and drama in the play. While Shakespeare reveals Macbeth as previously harboring thoughts of committing treason to become king himself, it is only due to the witches prophecies that Macbeth is spurned into action.
This in itself is paradoxical, and poses the question of whether the prophesies were real and simply came to fruition, or if they only became true because Macbeth acted upon the prophecy and therefore fulfilled it. To appeal to a broader Elizabethan audience, this question is left unanswered. It can be argued that the prophecy came true as a result of fate (Protestant belief), or that Macbeth became king purely by the actions of his own free will (Catholic belief). 13) What associations can be made between the ingredients of the charm and the idea of Macbeth as a butcher?
This association incorporates imagery of food, something which is normally pleasant, and turns it into something contemptible and undesirable, as the witches are following a lewd recipe and adding strange items to the bubbling cauldron. Many of the ingredients used in the charm are either from creatures synonymous with darkness (i. e. eye of newt, wool of bat, scale of dragon, tooth of wolf) or borne from suffering (i. e. nose of turk, finger of birth-strangled babe ditch-delivered by a drab. ) Macbeth’s murders were barbaric and bloody, reminiscent of how a butcher cuts a pig, because animals are not treated on the same level as humans.
In a sense, Macbeth had indeed slaughtered Duncan, Banquo and Lady Macduff in a similar fashion to how a butcher slaughters an animal ??? cold, unfeeling and detached. Also, an animal about to be slaughtered cannot defend itself adequately against a butcher, which is similar to Macbeth’s actions yet again as his mercenaries murdered Macduff’s family in a vulnerable, unguarded castle. A butcher also eventually grows cold to the idea of killing. Initially, Macbeth was distraught and fearful following his act of treason against Duncan, but he steadily desensitizes to killing, and is no longer afraid of seeing death and blood. 4) There are a number of key words that combine to create the verbal texture or richness of the language of the play and which set up subliminal associations in our mind. Identify some of these key words and discuss their effect. Verbal texture is achieved by combining sounds that are likely to remain in the mind, or are difficult to say together, forcing the actor to speak the line slowly and therefore place more emphasis on the words, accentuating their importance. The slow and clear speech resonates in the minds of the audience and also subliminally forms connections from one word to another. “In every point twice done and then done double. ” This line plays on the words ‘done’ and ‘double’. The words ‘twice’ and ‘double’ are interconnected and correlate with one another. Furthermore, this line incorporates alliteration which forces the actor to slow down in their speech. ???”Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble. ” Similarly, this line is also heavy with similar sounds, especially the heavy repetition of the letters ‘d’ and ‘b’, which are difficult to pronounce when spoken quickly.
There are also rhymes present between “double”, “trouble” and “bubble”. This line, as well as the rest of the witches’ incantation, also has a noticeable meter and can be chanted to a beat or even sung. ???”False face must hide what the false heart doth know. ” This line is intentionally given heavy ‘f’ alliteration for the purpose of emphasis. Again, the actor must slow down considerably in order to properly say these lines, and at the same time, these lines are some of the most important as they speak of deception, and ominously foreshadow what is to come in the following scenes.
Therefore, it is understandable as to why some lines are given a rich verbal texture ??? they are more likely to remain in the minds of the audience than dialog, and often exhibit far more emotional intensity. 15) Identify the first soliloquy of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. What does each reveal about the character? The first soliloquy to occur in Macbeth is that of Lady Macbeth, following the reading of Macbeth’s letter to her. Shakespeare immediately characterizes Lady Macbeth as an ambitious and headstrong, albeit remorseless woman. Although she is full of avidity, Lady Macbeth is witty and cunning .
Through her words, it is revealed that she perceives Macbeth to be too kind hearted (‘full o’ the milk of human kindness’), which she believes will impede Macbeth’s ability to murder Duncan. While she admits that Macbeth exhibits traits of courage and ambition, she is under the impression that Macbeth will be reluctant to usurp the throne as a result of his conscience and penchant toward kindness. In contrast to Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is perpetuated as a ruthless and cruel woman, wishing to renounce her feminity in favor of the violence and aggression normally asserted with masculinity.
While she is portrayed as cold-hearted and scolding, she also seems to hold Macbeth’s genuine interests at heart. Macbeth’s first soliloquy in the play takes place in Act 1, Scene 7, as he solemnly contemplates on the impending assassination. Through this soliloquy, Shakespeare allows the audience to precisely see Macbeth’s inner nature, one of kindness and nobility, just as Lady Macbeth had suggested previously in her soliloquy. Macbeth feels it is strongly against his duty to kill the king, as he feels he is both Duncan’s kinsman and host.
Furthermore, Macbeth affectionately refers to Duncan as a brave and virtuous leader, one devoid of corruption, and perhaps even admits that he does not deserve to be assassinated. Yet, Macbeth yearns for the witches’ prophecy to come to fruition. He is ambitious, but at the same time, deeply loyal to Duncan. The overall tone of Macbeth’s first soliloquy is melancholy and profoundly reflective, showing that Macbeth possesses an acute level of self-awareness as well as a morally strong conscience. This is consistent with his overall ‘valiant’ and ‘heroic’ depiction at the beginning of Macbeth.