Macbeth: Dramatic Irony

Dramatic Irony When the audience or the reader is aware of something that a character does not know.
The Thane of Cawdor was just executed and the king feels foolish for having trusted him: “He was a gentleman on whom I built/absolute trust.” Later, Macbeth is named the new Thane of Cawdor. What the audience knows: Macbeth is also untrustworthy because he wants to be king.
After the murder of Duncan, the porter of the castle wakes up and responds to the knocking on the door. He complains about the cold, saying that “this place is too cold for Hell.” What the audience knows: Duncan is dead and a huge crime has been commited.
In his monologue in Act Three, Scene 1, Macbeth says it was because of the weird sisters’ predictions that he murdered Banquo. What the audience knows: He does actually end up having someone murder Banquo, so the prediction has come true.
Lennox says, “It was for Malcolm and Donalbain / To kill their gracious father? Damned fact! / How it did grieve Macbeth!” What the audience knows: Macbeth was actually the one that killed Duncan, not his sons.
Macbeth is the only character to see Banquo’s ghost. He is stricken with fear and collapses. What the audience knows: Banquo is dead but nobody else knows that.
In Act Three, Lady Macbeth complains that she is not feeling very comfortable in her role as Queen. “Naught’s had, all’s spent, / Where our desire is got without content. / ‘Tis safer to be that which we destroy / Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.” What the audience knows: She doesn’t feel comfortable because she might be getting haunted and she had to kill someone to be the Queen.
At the beginning of Act Three, Macbeth asks Banquo whether he is going for a ride in the afternoon, and whether Fleance will be joining him. What the audience knows: Macbeth is planning to kill both of them and he needed to make sure that they would be together.
At the banquet in Act Three, Macbeth proclaims “I drink to th’ general joy o’ th’ whole table, / And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss. / Would he be here!” What the audience knows: Banquo is dead, and that is why he isn’t there. Macbeth doesn’t actually miss him, or want him there.

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