In the play "The Tragedy of Macbeth" written by William Shakespeare, he uses the three witches to prophesize Macbeths journey through out the play. The three witches play a major role of foreshadowing for the entire play. They set the tone in Macbeth because of their prophecies and motivation for Macbeth's actions. Although they only appear in the first and the third acts of the play there roles are vital. Throughout the play, Shakespeare uses literary elements such as symbolism, irony and imagery to convey the overall use of foreshadowing in the play Macbeth.
In Macbeth symbolism is used to show what is yet to come in the future. In act one, scene three Macbeth is given the title Thane of Cawdor. In which the title Thane of Cawdor was taken up from the previous Thane who got beheaded for committing a treasury against the King Duncan. Banquo hereafter states, "Cleave not to their mould but with the aid of use" (Prentice Hall page 309). This quote Banquo is suggesting that Macbeth needs to use his new title the Thane of Cowder, as a stepping stool to fulfill the prophecy to become the King of Scotland. By using all measures to achieve and reach the position of being king. Then shortly after the scene Banquo and Macbeth come across the witches, and they are then told about their future predictions. This is one of Shakespeare's ways yet again to prepare for what is yet to happen.
Shakespeare then uses irony to foreshadow events that are yet to come. In act two, scene three Shakespeare uses the character Lennox to interpret the conception of losing someone very important who in this situation is the virtuous old faithful King Duncan. To act out that interpretation "Screams of death" (Knight page 2) are heard, which shows a foreshadowing effect that something eventually is yet to come. In turn this was the indicating point in the play that someone had died which was also stated by the character Banquo. Who also says that he hears the mourning cries of birds. After he said that he heard those form of sounds that symbolized death, Macduff then entered in with the bad news declaring that the king was died. One other example of symbolisms in the story Macbeth is that the horses begin to destroy one another. Shakespeare use this type of verbal and dramatic irony to interpret something a character may or may not know in the story or to establish a type of an underlying theme in the story of Macbeth. Along with the symbolisms this use of irony kept the reader well informed for what was yet to come about in the story Macbeth.
Throughout the beginning, till the final scene of the play Macbeth Shakespeare uses imagery. This is one of the main motives behind Macbeth's actions and ideals. In act one, scene three Banquo begins to remember the witch's prophecy which then leads Banquo to suggestively reasons whether or not Macbeth killed King Duncan to get the title of King of Scotland. One of the reasons Banquo is suspecting Macbeth of killing King Duncan was he was there to witness the prophecies of the witches in which they basically said that Banquo's children will become Kings and that Macbeth will become king rather than Banquo. Banquo also knew that in order for Macbeth to become King he will have to go through a lot of people to get to that great nobility position. So in turn Banquo "stands as a kind of morality figure who is able to resist the witches' temptation" (Ribner page 1). This means that in order for Macbeth to become a king truly he will in turn know has to know that he will have to go by any means into fulfilling his future. Where in Banquo's case all he has to do is accept the fact that his children are going to be Kings. Mean while the witches give Macbeth another chance into the future by showing him a series of three apparitions. The first apparition of an arm head meant to be wearing of Macduff. Next the second apparition meant to beware of a child who did not come from a usual natural child birth. Then finally the third apparition Macbeth learns that he will never have one of his own relatives become King or Queen. As the story of Macbeth comes to a close the picture of the prophecies given in the first parts of the play has a major impact on how Macbeth handles the title of being a king. Though his encounter with the witches might make him seem a little bit invisible, he is just thinking about the joy of his future but in truth he does not recognize all the wickedness he created.
Finally, in the play "Macbeth" it was very clear that Macbeth was going to die at the end of the story. The use of foreshadowing in the play had a great effect and added many dramatic ironies on how the story was coming together. One of the main reasons Shakespeare used foreshadowing was to create suspense and to create and informational opinion that helped understand what was to come next in the play. This allowed having an imperial aspect to allow a better insight of different ways of interruption on events in the story and to make these situations more believable and understandable. In the play Shakespeare used many forms of foreshadowing that involved many literary devices. The literary devices used in the play have an important role in the play Macbeth because before any type of suspense or action in use of irony, imaginary, and symbolism are used to provide a central aspect in what will happen next in the story. These literary devices played a major part of the story they also made sure that a better understanding was created and interrupted in the story it also provide an aspect of vocalizing your thoughts and opinions.
- Knight, G. Wilson. "Macbeth and the Metaphysics of Evil." Exploring Shakespeare. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003.Student Resource Center - Gold. Web. 4 Dec. 2009.
- Ribner, Irving. "Macbeth: The Pattern of Idea and Action."Exploring Shakespeare. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003.Student Resource Center - Gold. Web. 4 Dec. 2009.
- Shakespeare, William. "Macbeth". Prentice Hall Literature, Upper Saddle River. Person Prentice Hall, 2004. 300-388 Print