Analyse and Discuss the Impact of the Opening Scene of ‘Macbeth’

In: English and Literature

Submitted By zjaskot2
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Scene I of Macbeth is used by Shakespeare to introduce the concept of tragedy and to set the tone for the rest of the play.
The first thing that is the audience is drawn to is the thunder and lightning presented in the opening stage directions to the play, presenting inclement and ominous weather alongside the appearance of the witches, the instruments of darkness. The audience will already be aware of the significance of this use of the thunder and lightning as Elizabethan audiences often attributes violent weather with supernatural forces, which are embodied by the Three Witches here. This created a great sense of fear in Shakespearean audiences, as they were very superstitious and afraid of the supernatural.
Right at the start of the scene we are made aware that we will see the witches once more, with the first witch asking her companions ‘when [they] shall...meet again/ in thunder, lightning or in rain’, again emphasising the role of the weather in presenting them as ominous and sinister characters, perhaps also suggesting that they have powers to control the weather, as is seen later on in the play. This weather is symbolic of the chaos that the witches will bring into Macbeth’s life, as it is they who set him on the inevitable path that leads to his demise by planting the seed of greed in his mind, as well as preparing us for the crimes that Macbeth commits later on in the play. However the first witches’ limiting choice of weather conditions in which they are to meet could also signify the lack of freedom that Macbeth has over his own life, as all his actions are pre-determined by the witches’ prophecy, highlighting the hopelessness and sense of tragedy in the play.
In response to the witches’ question, the second witch responds that the next meeting will take place ‘when the hurly burly’s done/ when the battle’s lost and won’, accentuating the motif of…...

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