Macbeth - William Shakespeare Response Journal: Act I

Essay by strawberry_qteeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2004

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The beginning scenes of William Shakespeare's infamous play, Macbeth, serve to establish the tragedy's dramatic premise, as centred on Macbeth's ambition being awakened by the witches. The first three scenes also introduce the main characters and their relationships with each other, while creating the dark mood infused throughout the play.

The play commences with a storm, from which three malicious witches emerge. The story then shifts to a battlefield, where a sense of the cruelty of war dominates. As the captain recounts the heroics of Macbeth and Banquo, he particularly stresses how Macbeth courageously slaughtered Macdonwald, and uses the line "Till he unseam'd him from nave to the chaps," (I.ii.22) to describe the event. The bloody victory that the Scots claimed over their enemies foreshadows the gory murders that will take place throughout the play.

Though the initial impression the reader is given of Macbeth, suggests that he is courageous and noble, this idea is complicated by Macbeth's evident obsession with the witches' prophecy.

His fixation accentuates his immense desire for power and supremacy. Macbeth realizes that since Malcolm has been named Prince of Cumberland, the only way he will acquire the royal throne would be through conspiracy and murder. He considers taking such actions, but is not determined to go through with his plans. Macbeth reactions to the prophecy are both confused and idle. Rather than resolving to act on the witches' premonitions, or simply dismiss them, Macbeth chooses to consider conspiracy, though his own morality makes him doubt if he should act on it.

The women of Macbeth, are vivid characters, exceptionally wicked but significantly stronger than the men surrounding them. Lady Macbeth, for example, is the force that drives the character of Macbeth. She emerges to convince her hesitant husband to act on his desires. The weird...