Atmosphere is to a work of literature what a background is to a painting. Each Shakespearean play has a unique atmosphere which helps to build up the play. The general atmosphere of Macbeth is one of darkness and thick darkness. All the scenes which at once recur to memories take place either at night or In some dark spot. The character traits of the protagonist Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth Is painted with frequent shades of black. Nature Is foul and the desolate heath, the darkness of the night all contribute to the general effect of darkness.
Darkness, or we may even say blackness broods over this tragedy. The vision of the dagger hanging before Machete’s eyes, the regicide, the murder of Banana, the sleep walking of Lady Macbeth all come In the night scenes. The Withes dance in the thick hair off storm, or, “black and midnight hags” receive Macbeth in a carven. The faint glimmerings of the western sky at twilight are here menacing: it is the hour when the traveler hastens to reach safely In his inn and when Banana rides homeward to meet his assassins.
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It Is the hour when ‘light thickens’, when ‘night’s black agents to their prey do rouse’, when the wolf begins to howl and the owl to scream and the withered murder steals forth to his work. Macbeth bids the stars hide their fires so that his “black” desires may be concealed; Lady Macbeth calls on the thick night to come, palled In the Dunne’s smoke of hell. The moon Is down and no stars shine when Banana , dreading the dreams of the coming night , goes unwillingly to bed, and leaves Macbeth to wait for the summons of the bell.
When the next day should dawn, its light is ‘granules’ and ‘darkness does the face of earth tomb’. The change in Lady Machete’s character is marked by her fear of darkness. In one phrase of fear that escapes her lips even in sleep, it is of darkness of the place of torment that she peaks, Hell is murky. The blackness of the atmosphere is persistent and all- enveloping. The sun seems to shine only twice in the whole play. First in the beautiful but ironical passage where Duncan sees the swallows flitting round the castle of death and afterwards when at the close the avenging army gathers to rid the earth of Its shame.
Besides darkness, the Image of blood Is forced upon the audience continually. The witches after their first wild appearance have hardly quitted the stage when there staggers onto it a ‘bloody man’, gashed with wounds. His tale is of a hero whose ‘brandished steel smoked with bloody execution’. Macbeth carved out a passage to his enemy and “unsealed” him “from the nave to the chaps”. There was also a second battle which was so bloody that the combatants seemed as if they “meant to bathe in reeking wounds or memorize another Goliath. Lady Macbeth prays to the spirits of cruelty so as to thicken her blood that pity cannot flow through her veins. There sis description of the murderer appearing at the door of the banquet room with “Banquets blood upon his face” and of Banana himself with twenty gashes on his head , or blood balloted and smiling In derision at his murderer. Macbeth gazing at his hand seems to watch It dye the green ocean red. When Macbeth, before Banquets murder , Invokes night to scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day, and to tear Into pieces the great bond that keeps him pale.
Even the invisible hand that is to tear the bond is imagined as covered with blood. Lady the smell of blood and to say that even the sweetest perfumes of Arabia will not be able to sweeten it. Her shuddering cry mite who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in remarkable. Even in the quiet conversation of Malcolm and Macadam, Macbeth is imagined as holding a bloody scepter and Scotland s a country bleeding and every day receiving a new gash added to her wounds.
From this dark and terrifying atmosphere stand out the two figures of the play- Macbeth and his queen. They are never detached in imagination from the atmosphere which surrounds them and adds to their grandeur and terror. It is as if it were continued into their souls. For within them is felt what is felt without- the darkness of the night, lit with the tempest and hues of blood and haunted by wild and direful shapes ‘murdering ministers’, spirits of remorse , and maddening versions of peace lost and Judgment to come..