What Dramatic Techniques are Used in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”
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Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ uses a variety of techniques and devices to convey aspects of the play to its readers. These being the setting, conversations, the use of characters as vehicles and entrances and exits. Setting the scene may give the reader a certain ‘feel’ for the play, by putting them in the right mood in order for them to have the best perception of the play as possible. Conversations between characters can supply the readers with information about certain other characters or future events that come in the plot, they may even give away some of the story. Conversations between characters can also supply readers with information about other characters before they even come across them in the play. Vehicles are characters that move the plot or story forward by providing information. Entrances and exits work similarly with setting the scene; they bring, or leave behind a particular ambience to the scene.
Examples of setting the scene within Act 1 are where Scene 1 starts with “A desolate place”. This conveys to readers that at that moment in the play, the characters are in a gloomy and foul place. This can indicate that something unpleasant is going to happen. The conversation between the witches in Scene 1 mentions Macbeth, but they say nothing else about him. They conversation connotes to readers that again, something bad is going to happen. This is because generally, witches were thought of as evil beings. The three witches in Macbeth spoke of the battle and “fog and filthy air”. This tells the reader of more unpleasant occurrences. The witches’ entrance is accompanied by “thunder and lightning”, which again, sends the message that something bad lies further ahead.
In Act 1 Scene 2, it is conveyed to the readers that the setting is again unpleasant. A battle had just been fought, leaving a gruesome scene. This is shown when Shakespeare writes, “what bloody man is that?” The presence of war is shown when the play says “good…soldiers fought”. The conversation between Duncan and the Captain reveals information about Macbeth before his character even enters the play. Readers trust this information given about Macbeth’s personality because they assume that these men know who Macbeth really is. This is displayed in parts of the play such as, “For brave Macbeth”, “what he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won”. The vehicles in this scene are all four characters that appear in it, in particular, the Captain and Duncan, as they speak mostly of Macbeth. These four characters push the story forward by ‘leaking’ information to the readers. They convey information that eventually pieces together and provides a strong image inside the readers’ mind of what the scene would be like if they themselves had been there. The entrance of Duncan and the “bleeding Captain” show that something has gone wrong, as the Captain is injured. This can relate to the trio of witches’ presence previously because their presence has always been associated with malicious and unfortunate incidents such as this.
In Scene 3 of Act 1, the scene is set yet again with thunder. Much of the language used is callous, such as, “swine” and “Aroint thee”. This, with the company of the witches, brings very similar messages as those from Scene 1. “A heath”, again brings the readers to a barren and uninhabited place. This is much like Scene 1. The witches’ conversation brings more information about Macbeth Readers will trust this information because witches are known to have the ability to predict future events as well as read minds. They can predict when Macbeth is coming, “A drum a drum; Macbeth doth come”.
Banquo reveals more information, and is therefore a vehicle to impel the story forward. The witches’ entrance is again, accompanied by “thunder”, as witches are generally associated with certain weather conditions and atmosphere. Almost instantly after the witches predict Macbeth is coming, Macbeth makes his first entrance in the play, he says “So foul and fair a day I have not seen”. Macbeth’s first words echo the last words from Scene 1. This is so the audience can easily make a connection between the two to perhaps help them remember what occurred in Scene 1. Banuqo is used as a vehicle, telling the reader what the witches look like and how they behave. Macbeth’s reaction to the witches’ predictions is “start”. This means he is intrigued by their knowledge, by wanting them to talk more. There is some imagery in this scene. For example, when Banquo says “strange garments” and Macbeth says “borrowed robes” their words are linked for emphasis. These quotes show that the withes’ appearances are unnatural to them.
The techniques that Shakespeare used to reveal the story of ‘Macbeth’ were pertinent to this play. This is because the techniques used complimented the plot of the play, and allowed the story to move forward in the subtle way. The techniques used create dramatic effects, which engage and entertain the audience effectively.