the use of animals to portray foreshadowing in Macbeth


Thesis Statement: Throughout the play of Macbeth, Shakespeare chooses to use animals to portray foreshadowing, to develop character and to evoke a wide variety of emotions from the audience.

A) Dramatic Purpose #1 To Characterize

- to show the development of a person/character.
- helps the audience to understand the true personalities
of characters (not what their portrayed to be to others).
- 1. a) "... Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear, / The arm'd rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger; / Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves / Shall never tremble ..."
(Act 3, Scene 4, Lines 123-125).
- Macbeth is speaking to Lady Macbeth about Banquo's ghost he says that if any of these fierce animals should come near him, he would never be scared.
Macbeth doesn't want Banquo to be in any part of his life, that's why why he killed him. Now that he's come back as a ghost (he's trembling/scared that Banquo will never leave him alone)
- the use of these fierce creatures compared to Banquo shows that Macbeth may be regretting the murder of Banquo. - Shows he's not as strong as he portrays himself to be, he's a coward inside, he can't face up to what he's done.
- b) "... As sparrows, eagles, or the hare, the lion."
(Act 1, Scene 2, Line 39).the soldier is speaking of Macbeth and Banquo.
- just as an eagle easily defeats the sparrow or the lion easily defeats the hare, Macbeth and Banquo defeated their opponents.
- this is portraying one as an eagle and the other as a lion.
- either way, there was no competition between Macbeth and Banquo and their enemies. Shows the characters of Macbeth and Banquo and how fierce they really are.
- the lion and the eagle are fierce animals, whereas the sparrow and the hare are very weak. They can easily be killed.
- c) "I come, Graymalkin. Paddock calls; --anon." (Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 11-12).
- the witches companions, demons, are familiar spirits who are calling the witches.
- Graymalkin is a cat and Paddock is a toad.
- shows the witches are ones who believe in evil spirits, as most witches are portrayed as.
- shows they have foretelling knowledge - evil spirits, cats, they vanish.
- Shakespeare uses a cat as a spirit, as cats are significant to witches
a toad portrays their ugliness, as described earlier.

B) Dramatic Purpose #2 To Create Emotions

- to make the audience's sympathies lie where the dramatist wants them to lie.
- makes the audience more involved in what's happening, more enjoyable if they can 'feel' what others do.
- a) "What, all my pretty chickens and their dam / At one fell swoop?"
(Act 4, Scene 3, Lines 255-226).
- Macduff has just found out that his family has been murdered.
- he asks Malcolm if all his children and their mother have died.
- he uses chickens because they are so vulnerable, helpless, skittish and easily frightened.
- although when he speaks of 'dam' he is speaking of his wife, since she is older and more experienced so she is not as frightened and scared. However, she was in a helpless situation so she is still referred to as 'an animal' because she is the 'parent' to the chickens.
- this is to make the audience feel sorry, almost helpless towards Macduff's family. By using chickens, we feel how helpless they must have been and how scared they really were.
- b) "Throw physic to the dogs, I'll none of it."(Act 5, Scene 3, Line 55). -Shakespeare is referring to throwing medical science to the dogs, he doesn't want anything to do with medical science because the doctor just said that he cannot cure Macbeth, she's not physically sick, just mentally.
- he refers to throwing it to the dogs because Shakespeare wants to evoke a sense of frustration from Macbeth over the condition of Lady Macbeth.
- c) "They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly, / But bear-like I must fight the course." (Act 5, Scene 7, Lines 1-2).
- this metaphor refers to a popular sport, bear-baiting Macbeth realizes that he is trapped, but feels that if he fights it out, to the end of the 'course' he might triumph.
- in his mind, there is a hope that he will somehow escape because he doesn't believe that