Gothic literature opens up explorations of violence. Whilst Macbeth conforms to the key gothic feature, it could be argued that Shakespeare often uses the violence in excess, desensitising the audience and taking away the desired effect. The structure of Macbeth introduces the audience firstly to legitimate violence, through to illegitimate violence and finally a loss of control. The beginning of the play sees “noble” Macbeth rewarded for “unseeming” a man “from the nave to the chops” in battle, whilst this violence may be controversial among a modern audience, it would have been condoned by a jacobean audience.
Macbeth’s meeting with the witches can be seen as a pivotal point in the play, as it is here the the violence takes a sinister turn. Shakespeare structures the play so that a majority of the killings are performed off stage, whilst this does not necessarily conform to the idea of ‘excessive violence’ the audience are introduced to inordinate violence through the reactions of the characters. Shakespeare shows the audience how things are going to change with Lady Macbeth’s “unsex me here” monologue.
She states “come to my womans breasts and take my milk for gall”, the speech sees Lady Macbeth want to strip herself of symbols of nurture and womanhood, it could be argued that this acts as a pivotal point to set the reader up for the murders, as killing and violence is often associated with masculinity. Lady Macbeth is acting extreme, and shows that she is willing to do whatever necessary to seize the throne, critics may suggest that is is the preparation given to the audience that means the violence ‘ceases too have any effect’ rather that the ‘excess’ of the violence in the play.
The Essay on Comparing And Contrasting Macbeth And Lady Macbeth
In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are depicted very differently and simply wanting kingship are among the few similarities. It is also interesting how the differences between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are caused by other differences in their traits, starting chain reactions of contrariety. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both posses greedy and ambitious attributes. So ...
The language used in Macbeth enables the introduction of excess violence and also highlights the loss of control experienced by both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Whilst at the beginning the of the play Lady Macbeth states “a little water will clear us of this deed” she later asks herself “who’d have thought the old man to have so much blood in him”. Lady Macbeth’s language allows the audience to feel the effect of murders despite not seeing them performed.
The audience are arguably not shown an ‘excess’ of violence on stage, despite this it could be argued that the effect the violence has on the protagonists introduces the audience the excessive violence. Macbeth feels he is “in blood so far stepped” the statement in itself shows the audience that Macbeth feels trapped by his actions, however it also highlights the magnitude of consequences that Macbeth and his wife now face, it could be argued that the excessive violence ceases to have any effect on the audience due to the fact they are more involved in seeing the consequences.
Whilst a lot of the physical violence happens off stage, the audience are shown what could be argued to be an excess of psychological violence on stage. Lady Macbeth takes control in the beginning of the play, telling macbeth to “act like the innocent flower but be the serpent under it” however the psychological consequences due to guilt soon start to show as Lady Macbeth loses control. “out damn spot” can be argued to be a clear reference to blood, and whilst before only a “little water” was needed to dismiss the evidence of the murders, Lady Macbeth now questions whether “all great Neptune’s ocean” will clear her of the guilt.
Lady Macbeth’s fall to insanity – another key gothic feature – shows the audience how the guilt, as a result of the murders is having an excessive effect on Lady Macbeth’s mind. Macbeth also suffers with self inflicted psychological violence, when confronted with Banquo’s ghost. It could be argued that it is the directors choice that will determine what effect the psychological violence will have on the audience.
The Essay on Psychological effects on women victims of domestic violence
Campbell, Jacquelyn el “Intimate Partner Violence and Physical health Consequences”. Archives of Internal Medicine 162i 10 Article 7 (2002) The research was: “Intimate Partner Violence and Physical Health Consequence” where researchers were examining how violence affects a woman’s short term as well long term physical wellbeing. This study explored the area of abused and non abused women ...
Whilst some may chose to allow the audience to share Macbeth’s thoughts by making the ghost visible, others may force Macbeth to be alone with his thoughts, by keeping the ghost hidden. The psychological violence in Macbeth may be interpreted differently by the audience, whilst Macbeth has being unstable from the beginning of the play, making his psychological outbursts excessive, the audience have seen Lady Macbeth’s loss of control, arguably making her psychological violence more affective because it is not seen in excess.
Overall some members of the audience may feel like the play lacks tension and surprise, and therefore the violence may cease of have any effect on them, however some critics may suggest that it is the excess in itself that evokes the reaction from the audience and makes Macbeth such a violent, controversial play.