Friday, February 22, 2008
Macbeth: Act 1 sc . vii: A Simple Plan
Did you ever make plan, then reconsider it...only to have someone talk you right back into it?
That's the situation our protagonist finds himself in when he return to the castle.
"On the one hand, I'll have power...and I'll be king. But OTOH, I'll have to live with the guilt of killing such a great king, whom everyone loves, and I don't know if I can do that...Nah. Fuggetaboutit."
When Macbeth is faced with killing Duncan to become king, he is ambiguous about it. In Act 1, sc. vii, Macbeth debates with himself if he should kill Duncan, listing all the good things Duncan has done. In this debate, Macbeth acknowledges the heinousness of this plan, and that Duncan's murder will bring with it grave consequences.
If this were a novel or short story, the internal conflict would have been carried on as thoughts inside the protagonist's mind. Since it is a drama, dramatic devices have to be used to convey this conflict to the audience. Which specific dramatic devices are employed to show Macbeth's internal conflict?
At the beginning of scene vii, Shakespeare uses wordplay with the word "done". While not uncommon in Shakespeare's other works, in Macbeth the language is more direct and straightforward, with less wordplay.
Why do you think Shakespeare used this terse, tense diction in Macbeth? Remember, we are looking for ways in which language- whether poetic couplets, rhyme, meter, alliteration, etc. - drives the play, pointing the reader/audience to interpretation.
At the end of Act 1, Macbeth looks like he's not going to go through with his plan to kill Duncan. But, after he's been talked to by his Lady, he returns to the plot.
Look for examples of Lady Macbeth's dialogue that may have helped to get Macbeth back on track with his plot.
The other question here is of power. Who is more powerful, Macbeth or Lady Macbeth? Look for specific passages to support your point of view.