Identify the setting of Macbeth's text and discuss how the setting influenced the plot of Macbeth.

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth takes place in Scoutland, during Medieval times. It is said that Shakespeare chose this setting to please the new king, James, who became king when Elizabeth I died leaving no heirs. James was the son of Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth's cousin, whom she had beheaded. He was James VI of Scotland, but became James I of England.

The play opens up in the woods, which is often a scary setting in literature, and is so in this play as well because the "evil sisters" appear - the witches - that prophesize that Macbeth will become king, setting off the evil manipulations that become the plot of the play. This setting establishes the supernatural mood and plot of the play, where things are not what they seem, where "fair is foul and foul is fair." As the plot unfolds, we see that "fair" Macbeth is really foul. Fair Lady Macbeth is "foul." The witches' prediction seems fair, but it leads to foul. The Macbeths' love and devotion to each other was fair, but it turns foul. Macbeth's ambition was fair - ambition is not necessarily a bad thing - but in Macbeth it becomes foul. All manner of foul deeds are necessary to fulfill the prophecy, which Macbeth embarks upon, and which turn him foul.

Read about the play here on eNotes.