The Dramatic Impact on a Jacobean Audience of Act 1 Scene 5 of Shakespeare's Macbeth

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The Dramatic Impact on a Jacobean Audience of Act 1 Scene 5 of Shakespeare’s Macbeth

In this essay I will be examining how Act 1 Scene 5 of “Macbeth” would have had a dramatic impact on a Jacobean audience. I will also be exploring how Shakespeare’s stagecraft – his use of devices such as symbolism, references to contemporary events and imagery – would have helped to create this dramatic impact. Macbeth was written to be performed – on a stage, by actors, and to an audience. In Jacobean England, drama was considered to be the greatest art form, and was appreciated by many classes of people, from King James downwards, so these audiences would have been large and varied. Shakespeare’s stagecraft
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Two beliefs about witchcraft are also revealed by the letter. The belief that they could vanish into the air is shown in the line ‘they made themselves air, into which they vanished’. The other belief shown is that they could predict the future – ‘these weïrd sisters saluted me and referred me to the coming on of time,’ The theme of the supernatural is strong throughout the play, and these references to witchcraft would have been of especial interest to King James, for whom the play was first performed, as he was particularly interested in witchcraft. Though this was the case, these references would also have caught the attention of anyone who saw the play, as witchcraft was an important issue in Jacobean Britain. They are also linked with darkness, unnaturalness and evil, other important themes of the play.

Many more beliefs about witchcraft are revealed in the rest of the scene, in Lady Macbeth’s soliloquies. . In her first soliloquy she says ‘that I may pour my spirits in thine ear’ which shows the belief that witches were able to influence people’s thoughts. Parts of her second soliloquy in the scene seem to be an incantation or spell. Her words ‘come you spirits, who tend on mortal thoughts’ show that witches could conjure up spirits to do their bidding, ‘come to my woman’s breasts’ is a reference to the Jacobean’s idea that witches were usually women,
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