Macbeth is a play written by Shakespeare that is renowned for its use of mood. The mood of a piece of literature is the atmosphere that it creates. Macbeth is a tragedy, and as such, it has a dark and foreboding mood. This is created through the use of language, setting, and plot.
The language in Macbeth is very important in creating the mood. Shakespeare uses words that have negative connotations, such as “murder”, “blood”, and “dark”. These words create an ominous feeling, which is enhanced by the use of repetition. For example, the word “blood” is repeated many times throughout the play, often in relation to murder. This creates a sense of dread and horror.
The setting is also important in creating the mood. Macbeth is set in Scotland, which is a very dark and forbidding place. The weather is often described as being stormy, and this contributes to the overall feeling of darkness. The setting also helps to create suspense, as it makes the audience feel like anything could happen at any time.
Finally, the plot of Macbeth is also important in creating the mood. The play is full of violence and death, which creates a sense of fear and terror. Macbeth is also a very suspenseful play, as it is full of twists and turns. This keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, waiting to find out what will happen next.
Mood is defined by Noah Webster, author of Webster’s Dictionary, as “the temporary condition of the mind with respect to passion or emotion,” and “a sick or fantastic mental state.” E. L. Thorndike and Clarence L. Barnhart define mood in Scott, Foresman Advanced Dictionary as “the overall emotional atmosphere of a work.” Shakespeare’s Macbeth, particularly the crucial and terrifying second act, exemplifies both denotations of mood.
The mood in Macbeth is often one of impending evil. This is established right from the beginning of the play with the witches’ prophecies. The first time Macbeth hears them, he reacts with fear and uncertainty:
“By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes. Open, locks,
Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 3
Even before Macbeth meets the witches, then, he is aware that something bad is about to happen. The mood only becomes darker as the play progresses. In Act 2, Scene 1 Macbeth has his famous “dagger soliloquy” in which he debates whether or not to kill Duncan. Macbeth is clearly in a state of turmoil, and the mood is one of intense suspense.
Act 2, Scene 3 is where Macbeth actually kills Duncan. This scene is set in the Macbeths’ castle, and the mood is one of dread and horror. Lady Macbeth has just learned about the murder, and she is trying to come up with a plan to cover it up. She is clearly disturbed, and her monologue gives the audience a glimpse into her twisted mind. The mood in this scene is very dark and sinister.
The climax of Macbeth is Act 5, Scene 5, when Macduff confronts Macbeth on the battlefield. Macduff has just learned that Macbeth killed his family, and he is out for revenge. The mood in this scene is one of rage and fury. Macduff is determined to kill Macbeth, and the stage is set for a bloody battle.
The second scene, which is set in a claustrophobic room with three beds, has an overall atmosphere that changes little throughout the play. The mood at the start places a sense of cliff-hanging anxiety, an ambiance of hysterics midway through, a feeling of tragic realization immediately after, and an unsure air of occult extractions towards the end. Shakespeare employs six key components to build and enhance the mood: people, imagery, location, music, actions, and dialogue. The setting is introduced in scene one.
Macbeth speaks of a “winter of our discontent” and how the three witches prophecies have planted the seed to take Duncan’s throne. Macduff enters, revealing that his family was killed, and Macbeth commands that Macduff be executed. Macduff cries out for help from Scotland. The mood in this scene is suspenseful and dark. The use of mood throughout Macbeth is cleverly used by Shakespeare to create an eerie feeling for the audience.
In scene two, Lady Macbeth reads a letter from Macbeth about the witches’ prophecies. She then starts to wash her hands, symbolically trying to remove Macbeth’s blood stains. Lady Macbeth is Macbeth’s opposite. While Macbeth is hesitant and has doubts, Lady Macbeth is aggressive and wants Macbeth to kill Duncan. The mood in this scene is one of hysteria.
Scene three takes place in Macbeth’s castle. Macbeth meets with the three witches, who tell him that he will not be killed until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Castle. Macbeth starts to panic and Banquo starts to worry about Macbeth’s mental state. The mood in this scene is tense.
In scene four, Macduff tells Ross about Macbeth killing his family. Ross decides to tell Malcolm, who is in England. The mood in this scene is sad.
Scene five, Macbeth is talking to himself about the witches’ prophecies and how Macduff cannot be killed because he was not born of a woman. Macbeth decides to send assassins to kill Macduff’s family. The mood in this scene is tense and paranoid.
In scene six, Macduff is talking to Malcolm about Macbeth’s reign. Macduff tells Malcolm that he will find Macbeth and kill him. The mood in this scene is determined.
In the final scene, Macbeth meets with Macduff and they fight. Macbeth is killed. The mood in this scene is one of tragedy. Shakespeare uses mood to create a feeling of suspense, fear, and tragedy throughout Macbeth.
All the deaths take place at night in any good horror film, when it is dark. The location is a castle, which would have to be the eeriest, coldest, darkest building ever built. Banquo’s “cursed thoughts” (II, i, 8) keep him sleepless in contrast to Duncan’s eternal slumber. Then Macbeth’s imagination and emotional exhaustion and strain build up a looming image of a dagger pointing at Duncan as he retreats to his chambers. “I see you yet…” he screams at the apparition, generating feelings of madness.
Macbeth is no longer in control of his surroundings and is quickly deteriorating. Mood is very important in Macbeth because it helps to set the atmosphere and create a feeling for the audience. In the beginning, Macbeth is very tense and nervous. This is shown through his words and actions. He is constantly worrying about things and he can’t seem to get any sleep. As the play progresses, Macbeth becomes more and more mad.
The mood changes to one of fear and suspense. The audience starts to feel like they are trapped in Macbeth’s world and that anything could happen at any moment. Mood plays a very important role in Macbeth and it helps to create an overall feeling for the audience.