Macbeth is referred to only as The Scottish Play by actors and theatre-makers, such is the dark power of the play. How does Shakespeare exploit the conventions of language and theatre to fill his play from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty – and moreover, why is this so essential to the universal meaning of the play?
SIMPLIFIED CENTRAL QUESTION:
Macbeth is referred to only as The Scottish Play by actors and theatre-makers, such is the dark power of the play. How does Shakespeare make full use of and derive benefit from the conventions of language and theatre to fill his play with extremely serious cruelty. And why is this so essential to the universal meaning of the play?
Shakespeare makes full use of the conventions of language and theatre by showing it through Macbeth’s speech and actions. Forgetting his morals and religion in the whirlwind of ambition he then suffers the consequences with the deterioration of his mind. The way Shakespeare illustrates this shows the volume of the crimes Macbeth has committed but also adds another dimension of direst cruelty by displaying mental illness.
- Main characters (most time on stage, most lines, most important characters in the storyline)
- Minds deteriorate (seen in use of metaphors, “hallucinations”, sarcasm, soliloquy and use of iambic pentameter)
- Shows the power of the crimes they committing
- Also makes us think of: morals, greed, mental illness, religion, meaning of life
He puts his desire to be king over all his friends and religious beliefs, achieves his goal but feels worse than before, even though he has committed so many ‘sins’ as L.M. has he still feels baffled and betrayed by “god” when L.M. dies
“To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself.” – He would prefer to be absolutely unaware of the crime than to think of the crime he commited. He knows this was a bad idea and regrets it, feels ashamed of it. Crime and M are separate.
“Stars, hide your fires! Let not see my black and deep desires…”
“Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.”
“Yet do I fear thy nature: it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness”
“My hands are of your color, but I shame To wear a heart so white”
“O! full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! ”
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
“To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
“Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?” (Act II, Scene I)
“Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red” (Act II, Scene II)
“False face must hide what the false heart doth know.”