Essay about Irony in Shakespeare's Macbeth

1143 Words5 Pages
Macbeth: Three Forms of Irony

Macbeth, is a story of a man whose ambitions have caused him to commit treason and murder. Visions of power grew within his head until his thirst for power caused him to lose his life. It is the ironic and symbolic elements such as this that contribute to the great depth of the play and transform it from a mere play to a literary art form.

Three forms of irony may be found in the play, Macbeth: Dramatic irony, being the difference between what the audience knows and what a character knows to be true; Verbal Irony, being a difference between what is said and what is meant; and Situational Irony, a difference between what happens and what is expected to happen. I will attempt to show examples of
…show more content…
One of my favorite examples of dramatic irony is the porter scene in Act II, iii because of the hidden truths the stuporous drunk revealed. The porter acts the part of the porter at hell-gate in line 2,

Porter: "If a man were porter of hell-gate, he should have old turning the key."

He continues to dramatize through line 17,

Porter: "But this place is too cold for hell. I'll devil-porter it no further..."

After the king's murder is discovered, it is almost comedic the way Lady Macbeth responds to the announcement of King Duncan's murder. First she enters in mock confusion questioning,

Lady Macbeth: "What's the business, That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
The sleepers of the house? speak, speak!" (II,iii,84-86)

One can imagine the actor portraying Lady Macbeth embellishing her performance almost to the point at which it might be called over-acting. Then, with Macduff's reply refusing to tell her what has happened for "The repetition in a woman's ear Would murder as it fell," one can not help but ignore the serious tone of the scene to laugh at the irony of his choice of words. The lady then plays her innocence more by replying in alarm to Macduff's telling Banquo of the murder,

Lady Macbeth: "Woe, alas! What in our house?" (II,iii,92)

Possibly the most enjoyed form of irony in the play is verbal. For example, the exit of Macbeth at his final visit to the
Get Access