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The play starts with the Witches, which is at a desolate place with thunder and lightning.

"When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain?" The witches are the
main source of the evil and supernatural in the play. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" They
also give an impression of fear, horror and mystery.
Glamis castle also affects the plot of Macbeth because it is where Macbeth murders
Duncan. "Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let
me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still." The atmosphere is dark, quiet,
and gloomy which sets up for the murder of the king Duncan.
The last setting that affects the plot is at Dunsinane with the banquet, Macduff, Birnam
wood, and Macbeth's wife's suicide. First at the banquet Macbeth sees the ghost of
Banquo which makes him nervous. After that when he is informed that birnam woods
had moved to Dunsinane which he thought would never happen he is really scared.
"Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him." But his wife's suicide doesn't seem to affect him very much.
"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to
the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to
dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts
and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." He realizes this is the end and that his own
death is near. His reaction is strange, very quiet, subdued and thoughtful. His power and
motivation seem to vanish.

Background setting
At the end of Act 1, Macbeth has been persuaded by his evil and scheming wife to
kill King Duncan while he is a guest under their roof. This will be a short-cut to
Macbeth's ambition of becoming king of Scotland [which the weird sisters had
predicted in Act 1 scene 3]. We are shocked by this evil , treacherous intention especially as we saw Macbeth at first as brave, loyal and heroic.
Setting
The setting is a cold castle, on a black night, past midnight, with the howls of
predatory wolves and owls which spring suddenly and viciously on unsuspecting
animals. Duncan likes the castle ['a pleasant seat'] but we have heard Lady M say
'never shall sun that morrow see' so we are half prepared for evil and treachery and
the atmosphere is one of evil expectation and two-facedness [Lady M has welcomed
him at the same time as planning his death!]
Atmosphere
Shakespeare cleverly creates a sense of evil [blackness and blood] taking over
Macbeth, his wife and the whole castle. He builds up the tension to breaking point.
Finally, he uses daylight and an ordinary, and not wicked porter grumbling about a
hangover to restore an atmosphere of normality and relax the tension.

Act 2 sc i
it is pitch black, the colour of evil, and past midnight, the witching hour ['The moon is
down']
the stage direction mentions a torch, so we picture flickering, scary shadows
Banquo cannot sleep because he has nightmares ['cursed thoughts']
tension and danger come suddenly with the sound of someone else ['Give me my
sword']; Banquo starts (jumps). It is Macbeth! Atmosphere is on a knife edge.
Macbeth appears to try to bribe Banquo ['It shall make honour for you']
now alone, Macbeth hallucinates a dagger pointing the way to Duncan's chamber:
this shows how wound up he is, and charges the atmosphere with tension and evil
blood appears ['on thy blade, and dudgeon, gouts of blood']
Macbeth reflects that only evil witches and predatory , murderous wolves are still
awake; he mentions 'ghost' and 'horror' ['Witchcraft celebrates pale Hecate's
off'rings']
the scene ends with Lady Macbeth's signal, a bell which, Macbeth says as if to
Duncan 'summons thee to Heaven or to Hell". The use of 'thee' to a King adds to our
sense of evil and tension mounts as he paces on.
Scene ii
Lady Macbeth starts as she hears an owl ['the fatal bellman' - a sudden predator
under cover of blackness; bells ring when someone dies!]
we wonder: was it Duncan's death cry? Atmosphere is spine-tingling horror
Lady Macbeth's cold-blooded account to us (thinking aloud) of drugging the guards
(grooms) and laying their daggers ready shocks us, especially coming from a lady
Macbeth dramatically rushes in, dripping daggers in his hand [red/black=evil] he
hears the King's children praying - this adds to the atmosphere of evil as we realise
that Macbeth has deprived children of a father as well as a nation of a good King
he cannot say Amen to the boys' prayer because he is evil, unchristian, possessed
he tells Lady M he hallucinated a voice telling him 'Macbeth shall sleep no more' conscience always disturbs the sleep of the wicked

Lady M tells to get 'some water' to wash his hands


Lady M suddenly sees the daggers - the tension mounts sharply
she shocks us by schemingly, coldbloodedly saying SHE will take the daggers back,
and if the King is bleeding, she will smear blood on the grooms
Macbeth realises the horror and evil of his regicide: 'Will all great Neptune's ocean
wash this [royal, virtuous] blood? Clean from my hand?'
Lady M returns and maintains the evil atmosphere with her unfeeling coldbloodedness 'I shame to wear a heart so white'
she is cold and calculating 'retire we to our chamber/A little water clears us of this
deed'
Scene iii
Complete contrast: with lower class character, speaking obscene prose [not lines of
10 syllable blank verse] appears in thin daylight replacing the black, evil darkness.
His joking conversation with Macduff about the effects of alcohol completely relaxes
the atmosphere to a normal one where the worst thing is bad language and obscene
jokes ['Lechery, Sir, it provokes and unprovokes: it provokes the desire , but it takes
away the performance' ]
We admire the way Shakespeare makes the porter, grumbling as he wakes up,
compare Macbeth's castle to Hell itself - little does he know how near the truth he is!