Significance of Act Four Scene One in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

Significance of Act Four Scene One in William Shakespeare's Macbeth
Macbeth is a well-known play written by Shakespeare in the early 1600s. The main theme of the play is the downfall of a noble hero and how he turns into a bloodthirsty murderer after being misled by the witches. The witches equivocated the truth to Macbeth to make him believe that he had the power to become King. This brought to light a flaw in his character as he turned into a traitor and murderer with the help of the witches who were plotting against him from the beginning and also with the help of Lady Macbeth just to fulfill his ambition. We can tell that Macbeth is easily manipulated especially by what the apparitions say to him in Act 4 scene 1. This scene is significant in the play as it forms the basis of Macbeth?s weakness. Throughout the play, we see that the witches do not exactly lie to Macbeth, they tell him the truth but the way they say it is to mislead him into believing something else, as they are very scheming and conniving. Hecate?s plan was to make Macbeth feel secure and confident about his character: ?â??Shall draw him on to his confusion. He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear His hopes ?bove wisdom, grace and fear. And you all know, security Is mortals? chiefest enemy." Macbeth?s thoughts towards the apparitions were that he was invincible and that no one could touch him.
The reason he thought this was due to the way Hecate and the witches had made him feel about his character, which was that he felt over-confident about himself and that he thought of himself as invincible. Now that Macbeth is confident about himself, we see that he doesn?t doubt the witches and in this scene, he goes back to them for more information and this is when he sees the apparitions and believes them fully. The first apparition says "Beware Macduff" so Macbeth is prepared to make risks and sets off to kill Macduffs family. By this point of the play, we know that Macbeth has fallen into the trap of the witches plan. He already thinks that he is invincible and he is reinforced of this when the second apparition says, ?For none of woman born shall harm Macbeth? but he is yet to find out that Macduff was born by cesarean. The third apparition says ?Mabeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him", which makes Macbeth more confident as he thinks that could never happen. These apparitions manipulate Macbeths thoughts and actions as the witches have previously prepared his character to believe anything by making him feel secure and more confident then he already was. The scene also presents a procession of eight Kings and Banquos ghost which gets Mabeth a little angry as he doesn?t fancy seeing Banquo?s ghost. Without this scene, Macbeth would not think he?s invincible and would not be prepared to kill Macduffs family by the misleading of the apparitions. This scene develops our understanding of the characters of Macbeth and the witches. Opening the scene, the witches are presented as scheming and evil as they are shown around a cauldron brewing a potion. This encourages an audience to respond by believing that the witches are evil but another reason that the audience thinks this is because of the words Shakespeare uses to present the witches e.g. the type of things they say when doing spells or conjuring potions "Double, double toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble. This reinforces our earlier response that the withes were up to no good and that Hecate and the witches were equivocating with what they told Macbeth. The audience?s response to Macbeth is also carefully shaped by the way Shakespeare presents him in this scene. In this scene Macbeth is seen as a person who is easily manipulated by the witches and the apparitions as he is now over-confident about himself and thinks he is invincible. An audience would feel some sympathy for Macbeth because the witches are so evil to him. As an audience, we see how easily the witches take control over Macbeths thoughts by telling him the truth but making sure it has double meanings and that Macbeth gets the wrong impression by what they say. The witches are so evil that with the help of Hecate, they have Macbeth wrapped around their little fingers. This causes an audience to feel sorry for Macbeth as the witches have played with his mind and got him trapped in their plot. This could cause an audience to think that the downfall of Macbeth later in the play was due to the evilness of the witches by making him believe the wrong things although some audiences will still think that Lady Macbeth was responsible for the downfall of him or Macbeth himself was responsible for his own downfall. One dramatic moment in this scene was when the witches conjured up the apparitions for Macbeth to see. It is quite an important part as it shows how the apparitions back up Macbeths thoughts towards his new character as he gains more power over himself, turning him into a murderer instead of the noble hero that he was meant to be. I think that if the play was to be staged, the effect of this scene should be very dramatic as it is a significant scene and shows the witches at their most evil points. The witches should be presented to make them look evil by dressing them in rags and boots with scruffy hair. This will show that they don?t look like the unreal stereotypical witches but they don?t look like normal people either. Their voices will be crackly to make them sound as if they have a hint of evil inside them. When brewing a potion, they will keep making eye contact with each other so that they look more devious and scheming. Banquo?s ghost and the apparitions could be shown with special effects such as a puff of smoke to make them memorable and to make it look more mystical. The atmosphere of the scene as a whole will be shown as spooky as it starts of with the evil witches. It will be staged in total darkness with only light pointing at the witches so they can be seen, and light pointing to any other characters that are involved at the time. There could also be sound effects such as thunder and lightening, which will all add to the evil effect of the scene. Another dramatic moment in this scene is the way Macbeth reacted after hearing that Macduff had fled to England. Macbeth would be dressed in an expensive robe/gown to make him look powerful and to make him seem proud of his noble character whilst seeing the apparitions. The mood of his character will change as he becomes angry when he sees Banquos ghost and then he will become determined to have Macduff killed when Lennox tells him about Macduff?s fled to England. The main reason why audiences from Jacobian times would react differently from modern audiences is because in Jacobian times, many people believed in witches, whereas now, only the odd few people believe in witches. This will cause people from different times to have different views on the characters involved in the play. People from Jacobian times may think that Macbeth did the right thing by having faith in the witches and believing their prophecies whereas now people would think that Macbeth shouldn?t have listened to the witches, as they were probably just saying nonsense to him. The play is still relevant today because many people still read it even though the language is hard to understand seeing that it was written in old English. People find the theme of it interesting as it shows exactly how a noble hero turns into a bloodthirsty murderer just by the misleading of three evil witches. It is an enjoyable play, and the reason for this is due to the way William Shakespeare presents it and the type of words he uses to make the characters seem more real. William Shakespeare is a very famous writer and some of his plays including Macbeth are also read by pupils at school who are studying it. The reason that his plays are often used for this is mostly because of the language he uses and the way he writes the plays. For example, students studying Macbeth will have their own opinions on who is responsible for the downfall of Macbeth, and why certain scenes are significant in the play.

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