Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Macbeth Cinematic/Thematic Essay Assignment

1. A) Lady Macbeth: “…Bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue. Look like th’ innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t.” (1.5.60)
B)         Lady Macbeth is a very manipulative woman. This quote shows her ability to fool others by making them underestimate her and her power. Lady always told her husband how to act, and he always listened. Here, she convinced him to greet his guests warmly and sweetly, keeping his evil motives hidden from the outside world. Appearing innocent was important to Lady Macbeth’s plan because it would make any suspicions that pointed her out as Duncan’s murderer seem preposterous. She used her innocent image to her full advantage. Lady was able to blindside everyone by truly being the “serpent” hidden behind a false front. This selection from the play connects to the theme ‘Things aren’t always what they seem.’  Lady Macbeth is the most obvious example of this theme because she was one of the most immoral characters from early on in the play, even though the other characters had no idea that her dark side existed. The way Lady Macbeth appears compared to how she acts and thinks really shows that things are not always as they seem to be.
C)         The scene in the movie that this passage appeared in focused mainly on Lady Macbeth. She was trying to convince her husband that they will murder Duncan for the throne. This scene took place in the kitchen of Macbeth’s mansion. The lighting was low key, which flooded the room with shadows and darkness, giving off an eerie vibe. The film was at one of the high points of action, and this suspenseful lighting enhanced my mood and made the scene feel a lot more realistic.
            The director, Robert Goold, also helped Lady Macbeth be conveyed as more of an evil character by using a few close-up shots and angles at eye level. By zooming in closer to Lady Macbeth we could see the determination on the actresses face, and it made her character seem more convincing. Shooting at eye-level is the most popular because it is the most natural angle. These natural angles didn’t distract the viewers, so Lady Macbeth was all that the viewers saw and focused on. The whole scene was very engaging and gave a true feel to what kind of character Lady Macbeth is.
D)        Before even beginning the play I had background knowledge that Lady Macbeth was evil and strong-willed. However, seeing this scene where Lady Macbeth starts to expose her true personality really proved how insane she was. Hearing the words spoken by Lady’s character rather than in my classmates’ voices made a huge difference in how significant this quote really is to the play and the theme. I think Lady Macbeth’s character is portrayed perfectly in the movie. Viewing this scene furthers shows that things aren’t always what they seem, because Lady Macbeth even surprised me when she revealed her true colors.

2. A) Macbeth: “Bring me no more reports. Let them fly all! Till Burnham Wood remove to Dunsinane I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy Malcolm? Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know all mortal consequences have pronounced me thus: “Fear not, Macbeth; no man that’s born of woman shall e’er have power upon thee.” Then fly, false thanes, and mingle with the English epicures. The mind I sway by and the heart I bear shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear.” (5.3,1-10)
B)            Macbeth honestly believes that he has nothing to fear. He has become fully invested in the word of the witches. Their prophecies had already proven to be correct all throughout the play, so he did not even question whether or not what they said was true this time. Superstition had changed his whole way of thinking. Macbeth let the three witches inside of his head, and by letting their words control him, he was also letting their words control his fate. Macbeth seemed to brush off any doubts that he had of losing the throne because he was invested in the idea that all men are born of women; so all men are not a threat. He knows woods cannot literally move; so he thinks the idea that Burham closing in on his will literally never be possible. Macbeth’s behavior portrays the affect superstition can have on a person’s actions and way of thinking.
C)        This quote is the opening of a very important scene. In the movie, Macbeth is alone in hid dining room. As he yells, drums beat in the background. The powerful music fades away, but it helps to set the mood of the scene. Macbeth’s character doesn’t seem to have even the slightest hint of worry on his face. The director used medium shots of Macbeth as well as long shots and close ups. I think the switching of these shot lengths helps show the business in Macbeth’s head as he paces around the dining room and tries to make sense of the new prophecy he has just been told.
            Another cinematic device used that made the movie translation more realistic than the play was the use of cross-cutting. This editing technique showed us Macbeth being influenced by superstition and Macduff talking to his troops outside Burnham wood – actions that were happening simultaneously. The way the film version was able to show these shots back to back made it seem almost ironic that Macbeth was convincing himself he could not be touched because his biggest threats were already starting to contradict every word Macbeth had said.
D)             Macbeth’s downfall was ultimately his own fault. Had he not been so naive to believe superstition, I think he would have been prepared enough to fight off Macduff’s troops and maybe even keep his title as Thane. I think this quote shows how big Macbeth’s ego got in both the play and the movie, and that the movie version took my understanding of the quote and Macbeth’s character to a new, deeper level.

3. A) Lady Macbeth: “How indecisive you are! Give me the daggers… I’ll paint the faces of the servants with his blood, for they must seem guilty of the murder.” (2.2.64)
B)         Lady Macbeth speaks these words late at night after Macbeth has done the deed of stabbing the sleeping King Duncan. She sees his inability to finish the job pathetic, and she tells him to leave the rest to her. She has no mercy for the innocent guards, and only as her own well-being in mind. Lady Macbeth was blinded by power. It changed her, and the throne was all she could see. She would stop anyone who got in her way, and was too far in to turn back if she even tried. The way Lady acts shows that her goals are all she had in mind. She had no problem framing the guards and “finishing” the deed. At this point in the play Lady Macbeth is fully evil. Hiding the blood on her hands is more important to her than sparing the life of a guiltless guard. Power had fully corrupted her.
C)         This scene takes place again at Macbeth’s house. It is late and the kitchen is dark, other than the bright blood spattered along the edges of the daggers in the sink. There is no real music playing in the background, but there are background noises. These noises were very interesting to me. I could not tell if these suspicious bangs and screeches were really sounds from other places in the house, or if they were sounds that were imagined by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth because their emotions were probably all over the place and tensions were running so high. It is not clear whether or not these sounds were diegetic or non-diegetic, but even if they were just a figment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeths’ imagination and fear, they were realistic and added to the success of the scene. The scene was also shot in a two-shot frame. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth were shown side by side, which made their interaction seem as if you were watching it right in front of you.
D)        I think Lady Macbeth became very corrupted by power. She seemed to feel untouchable and guiltless in this scene. I think her guiltless attitude was temporary because she was literally in a trance by what she saw for herself in the near future: a crown. In the movie, the way Lady Macbeth talked about painting sleeping guards’ faces with blood from the end of a dagger seemed very real. I could never actually imagine a person saying something so sickening until I watched the play in movie form. The quote itself didn’t seem to change from the actual play, but hearing and seeing it in the movie enhanced its effects on me as a viewer.

4. A) Macbeth: “Blood will have blood!” (3.4.144)
B)        This quote marks Macbeth’s realization that he will be killed. He has caused bloodshed, so he knows that is what will now come to him. Macbeth had been ignorant to the fact that consequences could ever fall upon him for his actions. In this scene, after seeing the ghost of his slain friend Banquo, Macbeth comprehends that his ambitions no longer seem realistic. His “blind ambition” was carrying on in his mission to become king even though he had gotten his hands so dirty in the process. His realization showed me the first sign of weakness in Macbeth since the beginning of the play when Lady Macbeth first began to convince him to begin her evil plot. Macbeth actually seemed more human in this scene, and he finally came to terms with h is actions and maybe even felt some guilt.
C)        Before this quote was spoken, the dining room is dark and gloomy. Banquos ghost stood on the table with a glow of light behind him. Macbeth’s words and actions prior to this scene were all over the place, which seemed to confuse Lady Macbeth. This is also the scene where Lady Macbeth begins to fall apart. The shot-reverse-shot method was used both between Banquo’s ghost with Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth with Macbeth. In using this, we were able to see the way Banquo is raised above Macbeth’s character in a ring of light, almost condescendingly. It also shows the interaction between Macbeth and his wife as she continues to cry. Macbeth says “Blood will have blood” with no noise in the background or any distractions by special film techniques.
D)        I enjoyed watching this scene and knowing that Macbeth finally admitted he had done wrong. Once he started on his killing spree he did not turn back one time. The path he had left behind him had finally caught up with him, which gave me a pleased feeling. His overbearing ambition to take the place of King Duncan had caused too much destruction to the lives of others, and I think he only saw this because Banquo was once his real friend. This was the only reason Banquo’s ghost came back into his head; because he finally felt remorse for something he had done. It truly haunted Macbeth that he had killed a good man. He knew revenge was near.


  1. 2. We did not have any of the same quotes but we did have many of the same people. For example, i wrote a quote from Lady Macbeth as well. I think that we both come to the conclusion that Lady Macbeth is very powerful woman who strives to have power. She is determined to have Macbeth become King so that she will be able to have power. She is a very self centered person who loves to have the attention on her and i think this is why in the movie she had the look of evil in her eyes. I think that our observations about Lady Macbeth were very similar.
    3. My favorite quote that you have written about would be the first one because it really does portray how manipulative Lady Macbeth really is. I liked it the most because in those few words she meant so much and it was so powerful that if she said that to me i would most likely have obeyed her as well. She is a very clear and thorough person who is determined on getting the outcome she wants which is to get Macbeth to become king and for herself to have some power.
    4. I think in the film, they really portrayed Lady Macbeth well because they made her really evil and in some parts of the movie she even scared me. I think most of all she was too caught up on getting the power that she forget what it felt like to be without power and responsibilities. I think the film showed both sides of her very well. I also tend to think that the film made her seem just as she was in the book if not worse. She was an evil woman and she needed to be taken care of and that is what happened to her for getting to caught up with having power.

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