In analyzing act 1, scene 1 of Macbeth, the Point, Evidence, Explanation method might be used in addressing any specific content in the dialogue that helps the audience anticipate what comes later in the play. In a very brief scene, William Shakespeare introduces references to time, the weather, a battle, and Macbeth himself. Because the audience cannot know what will happen in subsequent scenes, some of this dialogue offers clues or foreshadowing about those future developments. Furthermore, the scene ends with a mysterious paradox that enhances the aura of mystery that the witches create.
After identifying which element seems most crucial at this early stage, a writer could establish a point about the function of their dialogue. One notable element is the weather. A sample statement supporting the importance of weather might read, “By beginning and ending the scene with references to weather, William Shakespeare establishes a connection between the physical environment and the moral dimensions of the events depicted.”
Evidence to support this point can be found in line 2 (“in thunder, lightning, or in rain?”) and in line 12 (“the fog and filthy air”), which refer to the physical environment. Evidence regarding the moral dimension occurs in line 11: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”
An explanation for the connection between these dimensions would reference the metaphorical and literal uses of “fair” and “foul.” Fair weather would mean sunshine, while “foul” corresponds to the rain and fog. In stating that these opposites are equal to each other, the witches may be implying the difficulty of knowing who will be on the “right” or morally valid side of the war.