Macbeth Notes

Macbeth’s reign 1040-1070 The present Jacobean audience of 1606 would have been fascinated. As a modern audience today, we are less literal, but understand their amazement of the supernatural powers.
Ambition One man’s ambition leads to nationwide terror. Once he starts killing, he has to keep kill more people- ambition makes people selfish & ruthless.
Moral vs Ambition Macbeth was reluctant to kill Duncan which shows he is moral, but his actions are more powerful. He knows himself that ambition often “overleaps itself/ And falls”- lead someone so high they have a fatal downfall.
Title- Tragedy of Macbeth We know before reading the play that Macbeth will die a dramatic death.
“Three to meet with Macbeth” The word “meet” sounds like they know each other. A prearranged gathering of close people- “The strange sisters”
Structure- “For brave Macbeth”, “O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman” From the opening, the audience see him as a good character as the king says this. This will make Shakespeare audience have a good impression of him.
“So foul and fair a day I have not seen” This is Macbeth’s first line of the whole play- paradox of the whole play. Witches say this.
“Speak if you can, what are you?” Macbeth doesn’t run away scared, he stays to ask questions. A Christian at the time would have been disgusted by witches.
Significane of three- Father, Son & Holy Spirit These heavenly, good figures are made evil by the witches. “The weird sisters hand in hand” and “Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine/ And thrice again to make up nine” creates a powerful supernatural circle of three times that Macbeth walks into.
Ambiguity “Fair is foul” and “battle lost and won”- the weather of thunder and lightening adds a pathetic fallacy uncertainty to Scotland.
“That will ere the set of sun” – reference to darkness A shining sun is symbolic of God’s goodness and fulness of life.- could be referring to Divine Right of Kings as Duncan is ruling the land. The sun falling shows uncontrollable circumstances. Foreshadows the gradual downfall of Macbeth until he dies at the end- darkness.
“His silver skin laced with his golden blood” A holy and Godly image of Duncan’s royal blood. Link to Lady Macbeth’s “gild” the faces as she refers to gold.
“Away, and mock the time with fairest show, / False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” – Macbeth Use of rhyming couplets and link to the three witches repetition of “Show”, “Show”, “Show”
“Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs”- Macbeth Vivid image of a burning eyeball jumping from it’s socket. When the Witches create a ‘show of eight kings’ with Banquo’s ghost.
“Open knocks, whoever knocks”- Witch When Macbeth goes back to the Witches after he’s killed Banquo, ironic knocking at entrance mirrors Macduff’s entrance into Macbeth’ castle in Act 2.
Slaughter of the Innocent The murder of Lady Macduff’s son is the most evil and brutal yet. Biblical reference of killing the innocent/ good people.
Lady Macduff vs. Lady Macbeth Lady Macduff is a caring and motherly women to her child- their witty conversation in A4. Compared to Lady Macbeth who would have “dashed the brains out” of her own child.
Lady Macduff’s death She dies believing her husband is a “traitor” that left her.
Disorder & Order Macbeth describes the chaos to the witches of string structure s falling – “castles”, “palaces”, “pyramids”, “foundations” and “churches.”
Thunder and lightning The Witches always meet in this weather- recurring motif of chaos & danger
“Fair is foul and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air” & “battle lost and won” Paradox – self contradictory
“Distaining fortune with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution” brandished – verb to wave/shake
“Till he unseamed him from the nave to th’chaps and fixed his head upon our battlements” unseamed – ripped open
“As cannons overcharged with double cracks,So they doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe” Captain describes Macbeth & soldiers brave and noble Macbeth full of patriotic ambition to kill rebel Norwegian army like a cannon with double ammunition
“Go pronounce his present death And with his former title greet Macbeth” Ironic- Macbeth kills Duncan “knell” and “hell”
Gun Powder Plot 1605 Macbeth was written a year later and shows the disastrous end that James I managed to escape – warning to other traitors of the dire consequences of following ambition
“Stay you imperfect speakers. Tell me more.”
The Great Chain of Being God created an ordered system for man and nature. Each person was given a status and any attempt to change this would be a direct attack on God.
Divine Right of Kings”He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy” “Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand” -Doctor praises Edward Godly figure with divine gifts – Contrast of Macbeth’s tyranny vs. Edward of England
Blank verse most of Macbeth written in this – da Dum da Dum (sounds like heartbeat)
Trochaic tetrameter opposite to heartbeat of blank verse- Dum da Dum da

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