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Darkness And Concealment In Macbeth Essay

1060 words - 5 pages


Despite Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ being a pre-gothic text, a vast range of gothic notions remain present, including those of darkness and concealment. The role of darkness within ‘Macbeth’ forms a vital aspect of the entire nature of the plot, with characters such as Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and even the witches displaying the use of dark acts, such as murder, in order to achieve personal ambition “that wilt raven up life’s own means.” Additionally, concealment plays an equally vital role, with the ‘femme fatale’ of Lady Macbeth strongly displaying signs of duality as she represses her evil nature behind the charade of passive femininity. However, one must consider why and how darkness and ...view middle of the document...

In Act One, Scene One, Shakespeare shows the witches with evil and darkness through his use of pathetic fallacy, as their introductory settings include a “barren heath” with “thunder and lighting.” Shakespeare’s use of this pathetic fallacy of “thunder” creates a domineering sense of chaos, violence and power in association with the witches, which instantly foreshadows their overall control of the plot throughout - as well as their control of Macbeth’s mentality. However, the addition of “lighting” to the witches opening setting simultaneously creates a sinister sense of the unexpected with the witches. Typically within the gothic, the use of “thunder and lighting” forms a warning to the reader, foreshadowing a sense of danger and darkness.

Shakespeare’s, Lady Macbeth illustrates throughout ‘Macbeth’ the vital gothic elements of concealment and duality, as the female protagonist conceals her evil desires with a mask of passive femininity. Arguably, Shakespeare’s use of duality in association with Lady Macbeth can clearly be defined by appearance versus reality,; with her appearing to be dominantly evil in the confines of solitude, yet weak and passive in the presence of others - such as Duncan, Malcolm and Macduff. Within Act One, Scene Four, Lady Macbeth expresses her desires to transgress the boundaries of gender identity, as she calls on the “evil spirits” to “unsex” her and “fill from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty”. On the surface, Shakespeare’s use of violent words within this extract, such as “cruelty, blood, evil, spirits” may have been used as a tool in order to display emotions of gothic horror and terror within his Jacobean audiences; who notably took all supernatural happenings at face value, and thus would have been cautious and fearful of Lady Macbeth and her desires. Therefore, instantly showing her as the villainous role of the play. However, it could be more strongly interpreted that Shakespeare’s structural decision to introduce Lady Macbeth to the audience in the confines of isolation, may have been to construct a sense of dramatic irony. Shakespeare’s instant association of Lady Macbeth with darkness,...

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