How Do Act 1 and 2 Conform to the Gothic Genre in ‘Macbeth’?

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How do act 1 and 2 conform to the gothic genre in ‘Macbeth’? Shakespeare has structured the play’s first two Acts and their openings in a specific order, to reinforce the gothic mood and emphasise the important themes. In this way, the playwright introduces the witches right at the beginning in Act 1, Scene 1. Establishing the key gothic characters at the start of the narrative is a convention of the gothic genre, as the reader is immediately indicated that there are going to be supernatural elements within the text. Similarly, in Act 2, scene 1, Macbeth goes to murder Duncan. This sets the dark atmosphere for the whole of Act 2. The settings used in Act 1 and 2 are very effective in creating the stereotypical gothic atmosphere. The witches appear in Act 1, scene 1 in a “desolate place” and in scene 3 on a “heath.” Witches are conventionally placed in wild landscapes that are mysterious and in deserted locations. Using locations such as the heath, creates a sense of isolation and secrecy, and highlights the fact that the witches are separated from the rest of the characters and society. This is a common association with witches, who in Elizabethan times were regarded as social outcasts. Furthermore, the themes of isolation and loneliness that are emphasised here are key elements that conform to the gothic genre. In addition, the witches are surrounded by “thunder and lightning”, which produces a dark and violent mood at the beginning of the play. Shakespeare has employed pathetic fallacy, as the wild weather foreshadows the unnatural events that are going to occur. Therefore, Shakespeare has used chaotic and conventional gothic weather imagery to conform to the genre. In comparison, Act 2 takes place in Macbeth’s castle. Immediately, the idea of a castle is a stereotypical setting that belongs to the gothic for its old, archaic and medieval connotations. In

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