Macbeth Act I
William Shakespeare, famous English playwright, often started his plays with
powerful scenes and mood-setting action. Act 1 of Macbeth, is no acceptation to
the traditional important and exciting Shakespeare introductions. This act
displays the deceptive environment in which Macbeth lives (which is a major
theme in this play), depicts the characters’ personalities and motives, and
finally portrays the constant struggle between good and evil. The first act of

Macbeth is important as it draws interest to the play by revealing the forces of
good and evil and a deceptive environment within society. By opening the play in
this manner, Shakespeare entices his audience to maintain interest in the whole
play as the outcome (Macbeth’s fate) is not clear. Macbeth’s world is a
place where the good is bad and the bad is good. From the very first scene, the
deception within Macbeth’s world is clearly defined. When the witches say"fair is foul and foul is fair" (1.1.11) in scene one, the play’s theme is
quickly introduced to the audience. The quick introduction of the deceptive
world gives the audience excitement as they are left in suspense. One cannot
readily determine who the good and bad characters are for the remainder of the
play. During scene two the audience starts to become more familiar with Macbeth
as an army captain recounts Macbeth’s courageous efforts in the war in support
of king Duncan. The general, talking about Macbeth, says, "If I say sooth, I
must report they were/ As cannons overcharged with double cracks, so they/

Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe/" (1.2.36-38). Through this, Macbeth is
portrayed as a valiant soldier. In scene one, the witches present a world in
which the forces between good and evil are not easily identified. Macbeth is
described as a valiant and noble person however the audience cannot simply
accept this to be true (because fair is foul and foul is fair). Lady Macbeth is
portrayed as a very well mannered and well-groomed housewife when in reality,
she is an evil witch. When King Duncan comes to the Macbeth residence, she seems
as though she is happy and delighted to see the king saying, "All our service/

In every point twice done and then done double/" (1.6.14-15). Lady Macbeth
demonstrates hypocritical traits through her behavior, actions and speech. The
audience is introduced to the interesting idea that a housewife could force her
will upon a supposedly strong-minded husband (In Elizabethan times, women were
portrayed to be weaker than men as the men were the workers who provided for
their family). Act 1 of Macbeth presents and demonstrates a world full of
deception. The uncertainty and inconsistency in the characters keep interest
level up and the audience on the edge of their seats. The audience is forced to
think about the concept of good and evil. This mental involvement in the play
draws a lot of interest to the play and also forces the audience to think
carefully before judging each character. The main characters in Macbeth are very
exciting and interesting, showing many human traits and emotions (such as
deception and ambition) which the audience can identify with. When the audience
can put themselves in the situation of a character, this intensifies interest.

Macbeth, the major character of this play is clearly described as a man with
conflicting sides to his personality. Macbeth is also thoroughly described and
has obvious depth in his character. Macbeth seems to be a loyal and gallant hero
as he is describe by the king as the "worthiest cousin" (1.4.17). However,

Macbeth’s loyalty is obviously not true when he, talking to himself, says,

"Prince of Cumberland! That is a step/ On which I must fall down or else
o’erleap,/...Let not light see my black and deep desires." (1.4.55-56,58).

Macbeth’s deceiving thoughts make his character interesting and appealing as
his ambition to become king (top of social ladder) is, no doubt, similar to the
ambitions of most people (to become powerful, rich and respected). Lady Macbeth
is a very interesting character as she exhibits a character with both good and
evil components. When Lady Macbeth greets the king in scene 6, she seems to be a
good hostess and housewife. Soon after, Lady Macbeth\' asks evil spirits to"tend on moral thoughts, [and] unsex," (1.5.48) her. Lady Macbeth’s
manipulative and constantly changing character is of interest in act one,
because she appears to be the central figure in determining the fate of king

Duncan. Duncan, the king throughout act 1, is one of the only characters who
does not change. He is not deceiving but he makes the Act interesting