How is Macbeth gothic in Act 1?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Although gothic literature was not established as a major literary genre until the 1800s, strong gothic elements can be identified in Macbeth, even in the first act. The primary elements that create a gothic tone in the drama are mystery, blood, death, and the presence of the supernatural. These are introduced in Act I and are incorporated throughout the remainder of the play. Act I makes it clear that Macbeth will be dark indeed.

The immediate appearance of the witches brings mystery and supernatural beings into the play. They are indeed the "weird" sisters, clearly malevolent in nature. Their powers are mysterious, yet to be fully defined, but powerful they are and quite frightening. Also, the detailed description of Macbeth in battle creates vivid images of bloody death. Blood will become a major motif in the drama, and Macbeth's life from this point on will be bound up with death. In the very beginning of the play, the gothic tone of Macbeth is clearly established.

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