Macbeth: Use of Dramatic Irony Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2043 Words
Date:  2022-10-11

Macbeth uses dramatic irony

Dramatic irony is when the audience has more information about the characters than the characters. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony in order to entertain the audience and show the deceit of the main character.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Act I, Scene III is the first example of dramatic irony when three witches arrive and greet Macbeth. Macbeth is addressed by the witches as Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth interprets this to mean a prophecy (Shakespeare 7, 8). The audience is aware that King Duncan gave orders to Ross to place Cawdor under his control as a reward for the victory.

Another example of dramatic irony is when King Duncan makes a nice speech about his host, while not realizing that they are planning to assassinate (Shakespeare 14,).

Dramatic irony happens when Macbeth, the lords, and Banquo wait for Banquo's arrival. Macbeth already knows the details of his murder. Macbeth's actions are well known to the audience, but Macbeth and his characters deceived them. Macbeth states, "I drink to general joy o’ the whole table, but to our friend Banquo whom we miss, would we be here, I to all and him, we thirst" (Shakespeare 38). When he was told about his death by the first killer, he expresses how he looks forward to Banquo's arrival.

Macbeth talks to Banquo's ghost and guests view him as a disturbed man. This is another example of dramatic irony. They say he should be left alone. As much as the audience, Banquo's ghost is not known to them (Shakespeare 38).

When Macbeth is still considered an honest man, the audience is made aware by Macbeth's crimes. Other dramatic ironies are found in the play such as Hecate's plot to deceive Macbeth and the plot of the witches. Dramatic ironies are used to highlight the treacherous plots that innocent-looking faces hide. This creates suspense and keeps the audience waiting for the truth to be revealed.

The theme of Act V, Scene V

Shakespeare's speech in Act V, Scene V, highlights the theme ambition through Macbeth. He talks about the shortness of life and anxiety in critical times. Ambition is a key theme. Stories of ambitious people are "full sound and fury," according to Shakespeare 65. Ross calls it "Thriftless ambition that wilt ravine up thine life's means!" (Shakespeare28). Ambition is a source of great energy but it is often short-lived.

Shakespeare uses the future to develop his theme. To predict what will happen, he uses the three witches. Macbeth's short life was told by the three witches. They made him more ambitious than he was before.

Shakespeare used the porter to convey the likelihood of what would happen. According to Shakespeare 65, the porter is a story "told by an idiot, full sound and fury." The porter said, "Here's an idiot who hung himself on the expectation for plenty" (Shakespeare 22,). This is what the porter shows us.

After their deaths, the tale of the ambitious is no longer told. The Thane of Cawdor is included in the tale. He had supported Norway's king (Shakespeare 6, 6). After his death, the story of his life is no longer told. Another example of an ambitious man with a short life is Banquo's death. In Act III Scene I, Banquo was ruminating on assassinating Macbeth. (Shakespeare 29,). He is part of an absurd tale. Lady Macbeth is also part of the same story, the tale about ambition.

Legitimacy in politics

Political legitimacy is when the king reigns as he deserves. It also includes the acceptance of all citizens. Macbeth's political legitimacy rests on deceit. He makes the mistaken assumption that Malcolm and Donalbain killed their father. This is supported by their escape (Shakespeare 28,). To stop further investigation, he kills King Duncan's guards. On the assumption that he's virtuous, he's named king.

The ability to gain the trust of friends is one of the hallmarks of moral legitimacy. Malcolm's questioning Macduff reveals that friends can help you gain moral legitimacy for absolute power (Shakespeare53). The play shows that the lords can have a powerful influence on the person who is in power. Macbeth doesn't want Banquo to be killed in public because they will be upset. They might abandon him.

Macbeth's actions of killing any person who disagrees with him makes him a tyrant. Most people hate Macbeth because of how he handles the killings. Duncan is regarded as a good king. The Thane of Cawdor does not give orders to kill the whole family. Duncan recognizes Macbeth's bravery on the battlefield. He exemplifies the qualities of a good king. Duncan is trustworthy and does not deceive. Macbeth, on the other hand is a threat for anyone with some influence in running the kingdom.

Macbeth describes Duncan to be transparent king. He doesn't have anything to hide. Act, I Scene VII says that Macbeth said, "Besides this Duncan hath withheld his faculties so meekly, hath been such clear in his great office, that his virtues would plead like angels." (Shakespeare 16). Macbeth, on the other hand has many good deeds that he doesn't want people to see. If they knew, they would not accept him to be their king.

Macbeth is a tyrant because he uses deceit and murder. Macbeth does not follow any fundamental rules during his reign. Duncan, on the other hand conducts his affairs in a transparent way. His reign is guided by some basic rules.

Gender, power and masculinity

Shakespeare explored the topic of gender. Act IV, Scene 1, the second apparition tells Macbeth that he is bloody, bold and determined. He also says, "Laugh to scorn, man's power" (Shakespeare 46). This apparition shows that a powerful man should not care what others think about him.

He must be determined and firm in his execution. Aggression can be taken from the words, "be bloody"; Macbeth follows the advice and executes any suspicious person. The boldness of a powerful man is essential. Boldness, aggression and firm decision-making are all signs of masculinity.

Soldiers are shown in their masculine roles. Macbeth refers his servant to as a soldier's patch, because he lacks bravery (Shakespeare62). Ross applauds Young Siward's death as a soldier. He says it's well deserved. Ross says that he lived until he was a woman. Then, he had his prowess confirmed ..." (Shakespeare 1969). His masculinity was confirmed by Young Siward's skills on the battlefield.

Shakespeare's explorations of gender are illustrated in the conversation between three witches. Act, I, Scene 3: The first witch asks "Where have thou been?" (Shakespeare 6. The Second Witch replies, "Killing of swine." Shakespeare subverts gender perception by depicting a woman hunting. Hunting is often associated with masculinity.

In Act II, Scene II, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are another example of gender subversion. Macbeth states, "I won't go any more: I am afraid of thinking what I have done." (Shakespeare 21, 21). Lady Macbeth grabs the blades and places them beside the guards of the king. Macbeth is afraid to go back in the room. Lady Macbeth seems bolder than Macbeth. Bravery is a significant value that continues to reoccur with masculinity.


Motifs are ideas which keep recurring. This analysis examines "nature" as an example of a motif. Shakespeare used "nature" to differentiate between good and bad. It may be unnatural, but it can also be bad. To give degrees to the bad deeds people might choose, he uses "nature". It is not natural if it is unusual.

Act I Scene II is where the sergeant talks to Duncan. This is the first time that the word "nature", as used by the sergeant, is used. MacDonald is described by him as someone whose nature is to rebel. Shakespeare could have used Shakespeare's speech as a way to instill the expectation of rebellion. "The multiplying evils of nature do swarm upon you," the sergeant says (Shakespeare 5, 5). This creates a sense of rebellion by referring naturally to the proliferation of rebellion. Some people make rebellion seem common.

Act II Scene II: Nature was used to discuss sleep. Macbeth refers sleep to "balm for hurt minds, great natural's second course and chief nourisher in the life's feast" (Shakespeare 21, Macbeth). It is important to consider sleep as an integral part of nature. This increases the importance of sleep. Shakespeare supports anxiety by creating a mood. When the play reaches its climax, Macbeth and his wife will both be restless and sleepless. When Lady Macbeth goes to sleepwalk, it is clear that sleep is of great importance.

Lady Macbeth refers Macbeth's state of being deprived of natural sleep when he talks to a ghost. Lady Macbeth said, "You lack all the seasons of all natures, sleep." (Shakespeare, 40).

Macbeth used nature in Act III Scene IV. Macbeth refers the ghost's cheeks to having "the natural ruby" (Shakespeare 41). Shakespeare creates a fearful mood. Banquo's nature was to rebel, even at his death.

Shakespeare often allows Macbeth to talk about nature in many cases. Macbeth stands firm against the witches. He demands they answer questions about their control of nature. Macbeth commands, "Though nature's germen might tumble all together, even until destruction sicken; I need you to answer my questions." Shakespeare 45.

Shakespeare attempts to prove that Macbeth is the most delusional among all people. However, he can see ghosts. Macbeth can perceive the apparitions and witches more clearly. Macbeth is only character that meets with unnatural creatures often.

Response from a person

A good piece of literature creates human behavior, things and events in a way that is entertaining for the reader. Good literature depends on the stylistic elements it uses and how they are organized in the plot. Over-using devices can be detrimental as it can create confusion for the reader.

Dramatic devices are a great asset. Shakespeare's plays are known for their humor and personification. Humor has not been used in Macbeth to its full extent. Personification is Shakespeare's principal stylistic device. Macduff's speech "Bleed! Bleed, Poor Country!" is an example of personification. Great tyranny! Lay thou thy foundation sure" (Shakespeare 52). Values are what give life and inspire action in those who have them.

To capture the attention of his audience, he uses flashback by Macbeth and foreshadowing from the three witches. Macbeth is considered great literature, as it presents a plot that uses deceitful and implausible methods. It is unlikely that Macbeth will be able to turn against the king once the play begins.

Poetry is defined by imagery. The quality of a poem is determined by the way the poet presents the same image differently from other poets. Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing", for example, allows the reader to imagine the sounds of people at work. Line 2: "The mechanics sing their own songs, as they should" (Whitman par. 1).

John Keats' "This Living Hand" is another example. He writes in the first two lines: "This living hand, now heated and capable, of earnest grasping," (Hirsch par. 2). Hirsch (par. Hirsch (par. Poetry is about the ability of describing images that make the reader think. The similarities and connections that are created from different things should make the reader laugh.

Works Cited

Hirsch, Edward. On John Keats’s “This Living Hand”. Web.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Web.

Whitman, Walt. I Hear America Singing. Web.

Cite this page

Macbeth: Use of Dramatic Irony Essay Example. (2022, Oct 11). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism