When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
When the hurlyburly’s done, when the battle is lost and won.
Fair is foul and foul is fair.
Till he unseamed him from the nave to th’chops/And fixed his head upon our battlements.
Wounded Captain about Macbeth
What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.
So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter
He seems rapt withal.
Banquo on Macbeth
Shakespeare makes very effective use of disturbing imagery in ‘Macbeth’ to convey a world in which evil is palpable and omnipresent. The world of the play is one in which horrors become the norm and evil finds expression in both the human and the supernatural spheres. The play’s dramatic impact relies mainly on recurrent and disturbing images of darkness, blood and chaos in the natural world.
Chaos in the natural world
In a play about kingship where the king is God’s representative on earth, Duncan represents all that is good and natural in humanity. The sin of regicide, therefore, is an unnatural and abominable act, which is a sin against God, humanity and nature. Shakespeare uses images of perversions and upheaval in the natural world to fully convey the horror and the consequences of Macbeth’s terrible sin. The idea of the unnatural is present in the play before any mention of killing Duncan. The witches physically embody this idea and their wild, not-human, abnormal appearance is instantly noted by Banquo:
‘What are these…
That look not like the inhabitants o’ the earth,
And yet are on’t?
…you should be women
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.’ Continue reading
Watch the video above to remind yourself of the storyline of the play.
The play begins with the brief appearance of a trio of witches and then moves to a military camp, where the Scottish King Duncan hears the news that his generals, Macbeth and Banquo, have defeated two separate invading armies—one from Ireland, led by the rebel Macdonwald, and one from Norway. Following their pitched battle with these enemy forces, Macbeth and Banquo encounter the witches as they cross a moor. The witches prophesy that Macbeth will be made thane (a rank of Scottish nobility) of Cawdor and eventually King of Scotland. They also prophesy that Macbeth’s companion, Banquo, will beget a line of Scottish kings, although Banquo will never be king himself. The witches vanish, and Macbeth and Banquo treat their prophecies skeptically until some of King Duncan’s men come to thank the two generals for their victories in battle and to tell Macbeth that he has indeed been named thane of Cawdor. The previous thane betrayed Scotland by fighting for the Norwegians and Duncan has condemned him to death. Macbeth is intrigued by the possibility that the remainder of the witches’ prophecy—that he will be crowned king—might be true, but he is uncertain what to expect. He visits with King Duncan, and they plan to dine together at Inverness, Macbeth’s castle, that night. Macbeth writes ahead to his wife, Lady Macbeth, telling her all that has happened. Continue reading
What shocked or surprised you about a theme? Exam paper 2015 Q. 2 A.
- The most surprising thing I found was how hopeful Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy seemed at the start. He made a commitment to becoming rich and bought a mansion across the bay from her home, just to prove his worth to her. He loved her deeply and put her on a pedestal unlike her husband. Gatsby treated Daisy like she was the only person in the world who mattered.
- Tom meanwhile cheated on Daisy with Myrtle and disrespected her by not even hiding this side relationship. He introduces Myrtle unapologetically to Nick who is Daisy’s cousin.
- Hope was sparked when Gatsby and Daisy meet again. Gatsby believed their relationship would work and that true love would win but the minute Tom suggested that Gatsby had been involved in illegal bootlegging, Daisy dropped him shattering Gatsby’s dream.
- George Wilson is portrayed as a “dull” character in the novel. Tom Buchanan says he is so “dumb he doesn’t even know he’s alive”. George truly loves his wife however and when he finds out she has been cheating on him, he hopes to bring her out West to start a better life together. The novel however has a habit of demonstrating how dreams can be crushed by the overbearing weight of reality. A few hours later, Myrtle is run over by a speeding Daisy and George’s hopes to retire and live out West are incinerated in the blink of an eye.
- Gatsby is a figure of Hope
- Nick says that Gatsby is “the single most hopeful person I have ever met, and will likely ever meet again”. The hope Gatsby displays in the novel is enchanting. He trusted that he would find wealth, win Daisy back and live a charmed, wealthy life. He nearly achieved it all, his full American dream, nearly. He is the representation of someone who fought tooth and nail for their dreams and hopes but just fell short at the finish line when George ended his life too soon. The fact that he brought himself from rags to riches does fill one with hope however.
Theme1: THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM IN THE 1920S
On the surface, The Great Gatsby is a story of the thwarted love between a man and a woman. The main theme of the novel, however, encompasses a much larger, less romantic scope. Though all of its action takes place over a mere few months during the summer of 1922 and is set in a circumscribed geographical area in the vicinity of Long Island, New York, The Great Gatsby is a highly symbolic meditation on 1920s America as a whole, in particular the disintegration of the American dream in an era of unprecedented prosperity and material excess.
Fitzgerald portrays the 1920s as an era of decayed social and moral values, evidenced in its overarching cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure. The reckless jubilance that led to decadent parties and wild jazz music—epitomized in The Great Gatsby by the opulent parties that Gatsby throws every Saturday night—resulted ultimately in the corruption of the American dream, as the unrestrained desire for money and pleasure surpassed more noble goals. When World War I ended in 1918, the generation of young Americans who had fought the war became intensely disillusioned, as the brutal carnage that they had just faced made the Victorian social morality of early-twentieth-century America seem like stuffy, empty hypocrisy. The dizzying rise of the stock market in the aftermath of the war led to a sudden, sustained increase in the national wealth and a newfound materialism, as people began to spend and consume at unprecedented levels. A person from any social background could, potentially, make a fortune, but the American aristocracy—families with old wealth—scorned the newly rich industrialists and speculators. Additionally, the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919, which banned the sale of alcohol, created a thriving underworld designed to satisfy the massive demand for bootleg liquor among rich and poor alike. Continue reading
Watch the video above to help you remember the plot!
Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota, moves to New York in the summer of 1922 to learn about the bond business. He rents a house in the West Egg district of Long Island, a wealthy but unfashionable area populated by the new rich, a group who have made their fortunes too recently to have established social connections and who are prone to garish displays of wealth. Nick’s next-door neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic Gothic mansion and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night. Continue reading