How setting clarifies the theme in "Macbeth"

Essay by metallican00 April 2003

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In the play The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, the setting clarifies the various themes and characters of the play. Darkness, deceiving appearances, and the supernatural are aspects of setting that influence the characters actions and lives. The play shows that an environment is a crucial aspect of one's life. Depending on where they live, one's surroundings affect their reactions and decisions.

The play initiates it's setting on a dark, gloomy battlefield where war is in order. This setting clarifies the 'darkness is equivalent to evil' theme, and Macbeth's evil mentality because it shows that Scotland is in a state of disorder. This setting brings darkness upon the entire country, and Macbeth's actions as well. And as the setting grows darker, Macbeth's wickedness develops alongside. Except for Macbeth's, all murders in the play occur at night. Macbeth wanted 'stars hide your fires' so he could kill Duncan without heaven seeing what he was doing.

This obviously, is an example of men's mentality as they go into war. Even Duncan's trained horses seem like they are going to, "Make war with mankind," (2.4.18) by going wild and breaking out of their stalls on the night of his death. This shows that the dark and warlike setting influences even the animals in Shakespeare's play.

Secondly, castles in the Shakespearian time period were deceiving in appearance. They are looked upon as glorious structures that were beautiful, peaceful, and everything but cold and reeking of feces. Such a setting is Macbeth's castle; it's deceiving appearance clarifies the deceiving actions of the characters that inhabit it. The king, as Macbeth's guest, is first to be deceived by the castle. "This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto our gentle senses." (1.6.1-3) This shows that the king is...