Hi, I’m writing an essay on Macbeth up until the end of act 1 and I am in need of help. I need to discuss dramatic tension while keeping my vocab and style “posh”. I am especially struggling with the topic of Malcolm becoming heir and how Macbeth reacted to it. How did this create dramatic tension? If you could give me any other info on act 1, or dramatic tension I would be very grateful!Thanks!The jitterbugx
Macbeth was very annoyed when Malcolm was named as Duncan's successor. The witches had just told him that he would be Thane of Cawdor and then king. Naturally, when one came true he assumed the other one would. Macbeth becomes very greedy and wants to be king, by any means necessary.
Until Duncan declared the Malcolm would be heir, he was quite content to wait his turn to become king as prophesied "without my stir". When Duncan announces this declaration, Macbeth immediately speaks in an aside to the audience that he had not anticipated this and bascially, his wait would be a long one since Malcolm isn't very elderly. It is obvious to the reader/audience member that this is something he is unwilling to wait for...it is an obstacle which must be removed so that the prophecy can be fulfilled. It creates dramatic tension because as we sighed with relief when he says he can wait for Fate to make him king, we then gasp collectively when he angrily rebukes Duncan's choice of successor. We know now that Macbeth will be willing to do anything necessary to make that prophecy ring true...it is our first glimpse at how deeply rooted his ambition is and to what lengths he will go to ascend to the throne.
"The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step / on which I must fall down, or else o'erleap, / For in my way it lies."
These lines, spoken by Macbeth immediately after learning Malcolm is the heir, points towards Macbeth's intentions. His first thoughts are wondering how he can skip over Malcolm in order to become king. At this point, I don't believe that Macbeth is considering killing Duncan; he just realizes that somehow Malcolm is standing in between his prophecy and the kingship.