Banquo's Ambiguity In Macbeth

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Many playwrights will add some ambiguity into their works with the intention to mystify an audience. William Shakespeare perfectly displays such ambiguity in many of his plays, but Act 3 Scene 4 from Macbeth stands out among the rest. Within this scene, the ghost of Banquo haunts Macbeth… or is Macbeth just going insane? That is the question the audience finds themselves dwelling on for the rest of the play…well... if they read it. If they watch a live-action adaptation, depending on which one they view, their view will be swayed one way or the other. This is simply because a director or production company, such as Rupert Goold with his 2010 adaptation or The Royal Shakespeare Company with their 1978 adaptation, can have an astound effect on…show more content…
Although this may not be a huge deal when considering the play as a whole, it makes all the difference when it comes to the banquet scene. Since the Royal Shakespeare Company limits themselves to a stage (which lacks the fancy lighting and numerous actors a movie has), the performers must exaggerate emotion in order to properly convey the tone of the scene. This over-acting allows the audience to clearly see how distraught and guilty Macbeth feels about Banquo’s death and, when his ghost appears, the audience has to come to the conclusion that Macbeth is hallucinating since there is no actor actually playing the role of Banquo. Goold’s adaptation is very different. It is a complete movie production, so over-acting can be replaced with features such as lighting. Although Macbeth’s actor still does a great job portraying his fear, it is magnified when the lighting goes from bright colors to dark ones when Banquo appears (with an actual actor portraying him). Even though Macbeth is still the only one who seems to see the ghost, the mixture of proper lighting and an actor filling the role of Banquo makes the whole scene a lot less confusing than The Royal Shakespeare Company’s version. Since confusion and insanity are often seen together, the audience is a lot less likely to assume that Macbeth in crazy. Instead, they will likely question his mental state and

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