Here are the thought posters that you produced yesterday. There are some interesting comments here that should help you with your first mini-assignment.
How does Shakespeare present Macbeth in the opening 4 scenes?
Some thoughts that came up in class:
- The notion of aura – Macbeth doesn’t appear until scene 3 but Shakespeare has already built up a sense of increasing anticipation at his appearance. After the first two scenes, we wonder what the witches – a symbol of evil and the supernatural – would want with Duncan’ noble warrior. His prowess as a warrior is also reinforced by the Captain’s description of his exploits in battle (look for the quotations!). But there is also a sense of brutality to his actions – this obviously reflects the nature of medieval warfare but also foreshadows other events later in the play (the beheading of the traitor Macdonald will foreshadow Macbeth’s own fate later).
- We said a lot about Macbeth’s first words in the play: Shakespeare has spent a lot of time building up this character and yet his first words not only suggest/reflect the idea that outward appearance cannot be trusted but also – and more significantly – echo the witches’ chant of ‘foul is fair’. So what is Shakespeare trying to get his audience to think here?
- Remember what we said about the different ways that Banquo and Macbeth respond to the witches’ prophecies: it is Macbeth who orders them to stay – look at the language here – imperatives used in the ‘stay you imperfect speakers’ bit of dialogue for example.
- And don’t forget how Macbeth responds to the prophecies – those dramatic asides and monologues. We’ll look more closely at one of these on Monday but they give us an insight into his thoughts here.
- It might be worth thinking about how Banquo warns Macbeth of pondering too much on what the witches said.
- Finally – act 1 scene 4: he realises that the Prince of Cumberland is next in line to the throne so his comment on line 143 of act 1 scene 3 (that he might get the crown ‘without a stir’) seems a bit hopeful. He is going to have to act – but what are the consequences of such actions? Do a bit of research on the great chain of being and the consequences of regicide (killing the king) in Shakespeare’s time.
ALSO – I’ve put the PPT created by Miss Jones and me (with the lessons so far) on dropbox – the link is here:
ADDED – September 12th
Here are a few examples of student responses: