The Use of Mood in Macbeth

1161 WordsNov 6, 20005 Pages
The Use of Mood in Macbeth Noah Webster, author of Webster's Dictionary, defines mood as the "temporary state of the mind in regard to passion or feeling" and "a morbid or fantastic state of mind." E. L. Thorndike and Clarence L. Barnhart, authors of Scott, Foresman Advanced Dictionary, define mood as "the overall atmosphere or prevailing emotional aura of a work." Shakespeare's Macbeth, especially the pivotal and ominous second act, exemplifies both denotations of mood. The act has an "overall atmosphere," even though the mood shifts, while this mood places a sense of cliff-hanging anxiety at the beginning, an ambiance of hysterics towards the middle, a feeling of tragic realization directly following, and an unsure aura of occult…show more content…
It also continues persistently adding a tense sense of invasion. Is the knocker(s) going to foil Macbeth's plans? How will the knocker(s) add to the denseness of this nerve-racking plot? The knocking carries over to the third scene, where Shakespeare adds some comic relief to such a nail-biting atmosphere. The drunken porter, annoyed by the knocking, imagines that he is keeper of the gates of Hell (an interesting word choice because he's actually in Macbeth's castle) and allows three sinners in (The fact that he's drunk and urinating all over the stage only adds to hysteria of laughter that has now engulfed the audience. Finally, the porter opens the gates and Macduff and Lennox, who have come to get the king, enter. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have come to the hall, and Macduff has gone to check on the king. Macduff returns in horror, making the audience and the mood change from hilarious to a gloomy realization that they've just witnessed a cold-hearted murder. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, of course, overact their grievances for the king. Macbeth says, "Had I but died an hour before this chance,/I had lived a blessed time; for, from this instant,/There's nothing serious in mortality:" (II, iii, 96-100), whereas Lady Macbeth faints. It is here also that Lennox introduces a supernatural mood, which greatly adds to the next scene. The
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