Shakespeare studied the works of Aristotle, specifically his elements of drama. Shakespeare is the author of many historical, well-known plays, but one, in particular, is his play, Macbeth. Macbeth is a tragedy that emphasizes all six elements of drama that Aristotle founded. He did base his works off of Aristotle, but he did not necessarily follow Aristotle’s opinions religiously. In my opinion, his elements of drama line up a little differently than Aristotle’s do.
I still agree that the plot is number one for both Aristotle and Shakespeare. If there is no plot, there is no story to captivate the audience. If the playwright does not unfold the story properly, the emotion felt by the characters and the physical aspects of the characters cannot be felt or seen by the audience. Shakespeare wrote each portion of the plot: the rising action, turning point, and falling action, only to have the resolution and solution end despairingly. The rising action of the play is when the witches are introduced to him. He also returns from his many victories and tries for the crown in the rising action. In 1.7.34-38, Macbeth says “We will proceed no further in this business. / He hath honored me of late, and I have bought / Golden opinions from all sorts of people, / which would be worn now in their newest gloss, / not cast aside so soon.” He is explaining how he wants to enjoy the honors the king is giving him instead of throwing it all away to try and be king. The climax, which is known as the turning point in the play, Macbeth loses himself and his self-control because of distractions; two of which are his fears and hallucinations. In 3.4.61-62, Macbeth says, “Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake / Thy gory locks at me,” to the ghost of Banquo. When he learned the murderers he sent out let Fleance escape, his fears were notable The falling action in Macbeth is well-known because of how well Shakespeare set the scene for the ending. The resolution and solution end with two deaths: Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. Although anyone could have guessed the tragedy of Macbeth to end in death, the time and thought put into forming the setting makes the plot important in Shakespearean writings.
The theme also plays an important role in why the plot is the way it is and why the characters act the way they do. The theme that I found to be most notable in Macbeth is a dictatorship and losing all morals when becoming power hungry. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth for King James I, and it is based on him becoming king. It was not written to disrespect the king, but to warn those who want to take him out of the throne. In 3.4.26-27, Macbeth explains his fears about how his throne is no longer secured due to the fact the final man was not killed, “…But now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in / To saucy doubts and fears…” His goal of those deaths was to dethrone the king, but it instead ended poorly for him. He had hallucinations of the ghost of the one man they did kill. Macbeth is portrayed in this play as a man who has something to his name; he has many honors that were given by the king. His name makes no difference as to how his story is going to end because he was aware of all the choices he made, and no one made him do something he did not want to do. He knew the only way for him to become king was to step over him; this is seen in 1.4.52-53, “For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires: / Let not light see my black and deep desires.” He knows what he wants to do is wrong, but his ambitions are overpowering what his beliefs are moral.
How the character ties to the audience play a huge role into how the audience will react to the play as a whole. The plot and theme dictate the characters actions physically and emotionally. Macbeth is the protagonists because he is the one who drives the plot to continue. Anyone who comes in conflict with Macbeth would be seen as the antagonist. The men in the audience can relate with Macbeth in 1.7.49 when Lady Macbeth discloses, “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” She questions his manhood by calling him a coward for not killing the king and going after what he wants. Like any man would, Macbeth wants to prove her wrong and proves that he is a man. This is how Lady Macbeth convinces him to kill the king. Another character that shows his emotion during the play is Macduff. In 4.3.261, Macduff voices, “But I must also feel it as a man.” He holds back his emotions when he learns about the death of his pretty chickens. This can lead to the comparison of Macbeth and Macduff: Macduff shows he has feelings, unlike Macbeth.
Diction is the language used in a play. Macbeth is written in modern English, not old English, and it is written in Iambic Pentameter. It is written this way for a few reasons. First, it was easy for the cast to memorize. Second, it was easy to explain and understand. Lastly, the unstressed to stressed sound sounds like a heart beating. Shakespeare also used descriptive language throughout the play. This can be seen when Macbeth was contemplating whether or not to kill King Duncan. In 2.1.48-50 it says, “Which was not so before. There’s no such thing. / it is the bloody business which informs / Thus to mine eyes…” The choice of words and the way the words are presented leads to hearing his doubt and acceptance at once. Prior to this, Shakespeare used imagery in 2.1.47, “and on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood.” He is foreshadowing what his dagger will look like after he kills the king; it also allows the audience to ponder what it would be like if he the king was dead.
Music is any sound that is heard on stage to expand the story and the acting. The audience is able to better understand the story behind the play when there is more knowledge about the character’s environment. In 1.2.41, the captain says, “As cannons overcharged with double cracks,” this was explaining that they, including Macbeth, fought the new enemy with cannons that were doubled with ammunition. This can also be seen in 2.2.5-6 when Lady Macbeth states, “It was the owl that shirked, the fatal bellman, / which gives the stern’st goodnight.” This leads to the knowledge of it being night, specifically the night in which the king died.
Spectacles are important to make the show come together once everything is done and rehearsed. Spectacles are the costumes and scenery and props that can be found on stage during a performance. At the beginning of 3.3, the three murders enter where Macbeth is. There has to be something to distinguish separate rooms they were in. In 3.4 between verses 41 and 42, it says that the ghost of Banquo sits in Macbeth’s place. There also has to be something that designates Macbeth’s place for the ghost to have the ability to take his place. Each spectacle used allows the play to come together and reach the audience the best it can.
Shakespeare took Aristotle’s elements of drama into account when writing Macbeth, but he was also able to use them the best way he thought it would help portray his idea. Macbeth not only shows each element of drama, but it also proves the significance of each. Each element plays a vital role in reaching the audience. Macbeth was written to connect with people in ways no other story has.