Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Looking beyond Acts One & Two

We just finished reading Lord of the Flies before beginning Macbeth, and the novel was full of moments of foreshadowing. As we complete the play, I was wondering if there are examples of foreshadowing that we can point to in either Acts One or Two. Thoughts?

-Michael C., Oakridge 3rd Period


  1. Act Three opens with Banquo talking about how he believes that Macbeth has attained the crown by fowl play. Banquo says, "Thou hast in now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,/ As the weird women promised, and I fear/ Thou play'dst most foully for't" (3.1.1-3). When thinking about other Shakespeare plays such as "Richard the Third", we know that Banquo admitting these thoughts out loud will lead to his death. It is like in horror movies when the audience knows that if the character goes into the basement alone they will be killed. The same is present with Banquo in this scene. Ultimately Macbeth has murders kill Banquo, completing what the audience already suspects.

  2. There is obvious foreshadowing in Act 1 Scene 3 with Macbeth's encounter with the witches. The 3 witches give him a prophecy and after that they state, "Lesser than Macbeth and greater./Not so happy, yet much happier./ Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none./ So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo" (1.3.68-71). Now this statement goes relatively unnoticed by Macbeth because he is busy already obsessing over the prophecy, but the witches are essentially saying this might happen but for a price. The line, "Lesser than Macbeth, and greater" suggests that Macbeth may attain his ambitions but he will be lesser for it, and the line "Not so happy, yet much happier" shows the readers that even if he succeeds in obtaining his desires he will not live in happiness even though he is in a position that should be of overwhelming happiness. This suggests to the readers possible foreshadowing of an amoral event that will take place in the near future, and if we read farther on, we come to know this event as the murder of King Duncan, only confirming our beliefs of Macbeth's moral downfall.

  3. Coming back from battle, Banquo and Macbeth have an interaction with the three witches in which they share Macbeth’s prophecy. They claim that Macbeth will be king, which Macbeth is instantly intrigued by this statement. When he attempts to question them further, the three witches disappear into thin air to which Banquo and Macbeth both question the witches’ existence. The three witches play a role in foreshadowing in Macbeth by telling the prophecies of both Macbeth and Banquo. This creates controversy because the witches did not state how Macbeth would earn his crown. Without foreshadowing in Macbeth, there would be no story because the prophecies are what create Macbeth’s misleading ambition.

    When Macbeth talks to the witches again after he has murdered Duncan and become king, the witches tell him that no man born of woman can kill him. Believing this statement to mean that no man can ever kill him, Macbeth throws himself at the enemy during battle, expecting no consequences. However, Macbeth’s “invincibility” comes to a sudden halt when Macduff kills him after revealing that he was born by Cesarean section. The witches’ prediction of this event is foreshadowing because it states cryptically what will happen to Macbeth in the future, even if Macbeth doesn’t see it as such. This entire affair is also a very effective method of foreshadowing because it reveals Macbeth’s character: a person whose ambition and ego gets the best of him.

  4. Throughout Acts I and II of Macbeth, there are many examples of foreshadowing that gives the reader a glimpse of what is going to happen in later parts of the play. In Act II Scene 2, Macbeth tells that Lady Macbeth how he thought he heard the guards speaking while he was killing Duncan. He thought that they were saying holy words like "Amen", and he was not able to say them while performing his sin. Lady Macbeth explains how she heard an owl's cries and murmuring in the castle while Macbeth was killing Duncan. Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth uncertainty about hearing things foreshadows their insomnia later in the play. In the early acts of the play, both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth become mentally ill and think they are hearing things which is why they have trouble sleeping and have nightmare in later Acts of the plays. Additionally, there are several scenes where the witches foreshadow what will occur in later Acts of the book. For example, in Act I Scene 1, the three witches discuss how they will meet when the battle is over and one side has lost and the other has one. This is true example of foreshadowing because they meet again with Macbeth and Banquo in Act I Scene 3. Additionally, the witches say, "Fair is foul and foul is fair" (I.i.13). This line foreshadows many events like how Macbeth's prophecy appears good but ends up causing his own death, his wife's death, and many other deaths as well.
    An example of foreshadowing in Act 1 of Macbeth is the bloody battle because it foreshadows that there will be more bloody battles later on. In Act I, it is clear that Macbeth is major role on the battlefield this allows the reader to know that Macbeth will have more battles to fight but foreshadows that he might not always be able to win every battle. The first bloody battle also foreshadows Macbeth’s over ambition because he is flaunted with compliments after his big victory which leads to Macbeth becoming overly confident. Another example of foreshadowing, is when Macduff becomes suspicious of Macbeth because of the way he reacts toward the murder of Duncan and Banquo. This foreshadows the fact that eventually, Malcolm and Macduff will join forces to take on Macbeth. The bloody battle at the beginning of the play and Macduff’s suspicion of Macbeth all foreshadow key events in the play.