Consider the Presentation of Macbeth as a Gothic Text in Act One There are many key themes in Macbeth which are first addressed in Act One that have clear links with the gothic, foreshadowing from the start the dark events yet to unfold. Typically, a gothic text will use features such as highlighting the metonymy of weather such as rain and thunder as well as a strong sense of suspense and mystery, in the case of Macbeth the supernatural is a large factor of presenting it as a Gothic text.
The three Witches in Macbeth are the stereotypical supernatural, threatening character. To the Jacobean audience the characters would be terrifying in a way the modern reader could not understand, especially considering the Witch Hunts conducted by King James, allegedly a descendent of the character Banquo in the play. Immediately, the first characters to be introduced are the witches and the scene is set to be “thunder and lightning” – also a signature sign of the gothic.
As the dialogue begins it becomes evident that the witches are plotting some wrong doing as suggested by phrases like “when the hurlyburlys done, when the battles lost and won”. These phrases conjure images of battle and conflict; we soon learn that Macbeth is on his way back from a battle and from hereafter in the play the conflict for Macbeth personally is only just beginning. Lady Macbeth is a main protagonist besides Macbeth and is an interesting character due to the way she conducts herself as a woman and a wife.
Unlike women in that period, Lady Macbeth is an equal to her husband and he immediately informs her of his new title “Thane of Cawdor” and also of the prophecies shared with him from the three sisters. It is Lady Macbeth who encourages Macbeth with his plans showing her to be more ruthless than usual stereotype would allow for a female character in literature generally but also specifically in the gothic genre where females more typically are presented as a ‘damsel in distress’ rather than emotionless and ambitious in the way Lady Macbeth is.
However, one of the key moments for her as a character comes when she pleads “unsex me here” reinforcing the gothic stereotype that she much sacrifice her femininity in order to be as ruthless as she is required to be to see her plan through. It is Lady Macbeth who encourages Macbeths thirst for power but this thirst for power is first kindled by the three witches and their first prophecy, one of which immediately comes true as Macbeth soon finds out he is the new Thane of Cawdor, ironically the original Thane of Cawdor had his title removed from him for betraying this king.
This makes for further foreshadowing of what is to come for Macbeth. The reader knows of Macbeth’s new title before Macbeth finds out in the play, this is an example the witches’ ability to manipulate pieces of truth to gain the trust of Macbeth. It has been suggested however that the witches do have some control over Macbeth, explaining his change from loyal warrior to power hungry tyrant, in the text “the multiplying villainies of nature do swarm upon him” seems to suggest that the witches, being the “villainies of nature” have swarmed upon Macbeth, limiting his self control and reason. In conclusion, Macbeth i