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 pleased with the setting. The castle’s deceiving quality also clarifies Lady Macbeth’s mentality.
“To beguile the time, look like the time.” (1.5.61-62) Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to deceive the people by wearing a false face and hiding the ugliness behind his thoughts, like his misleading castle. Furthermore she deceives her own husband by coaxing him into killing the king. “Wouldst thou / live a coward in thine own esteem?” (1.7.44-45) Macbeth objected to murder the king and this clarifies that Lady Macbeth betrayed him. Like a castle is misleading in appearance, the inhibitors of Macbeth’s castle deceive their guest and each other.
Lastly, the play incorporates a supernatural theme. The main setting that employs this theme is the The Birnam Wood’s. Macbeth was told by apparitions from the witches that, “Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.” (4.1.93-94) This setting influences Macbeth into believing he is invincible, which ultimately leads him to his destruction. “Who can impress the forest, bid the tree unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements, good!” (4.1.95-96) This shows the
In conclusion, The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare clarifies the various themes and characters of the play with its extensive use of setting. Darkness, deceiving appearances, and the supernatural are aspects of setting that influence the characters actions and lives. The play shows that a setting is a crucial aspect of one’s life. Depending on where they live, one’s reactions and decisions may be clarified and simplified by their surroundings.
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