Dramatic irony is a literary technique that is often used in Macbeth. It is a type of irony that occurs when the audience knows something that the characters do not. This can create suspense, or it can be used for comedic effect.
One famous example of dramatic irony in Macbeth is when Macbeth kills Duncan. The audience knows that Macbeth is going to kill Duncan, but Duncan does not. This creates a sense of suspense because the audience is waiting to see how Macbeth will carry out the murder.
Another example of dramatic irony in Macbeth is when Lady Macbeth tries to wash the blood off her hands. The audience knows that the blood is not actually there, but Lady Macbeth does not. This creates a sense of irony because the audience knows that Lady Macbeth is going crazy.
Dramatic irony is often used in Macbeth to create suspense or to make the audience laugh. It is a powerful literary tool that can be used to great effect.
The witches show Macbeth three apparitions: Quote “ Macbeth shall sleep no more”- First Witch (Act 4 Scene 1). This is ironic because Macbeth actually starts to sleep less and have strange dreams after he becomes paranoid of Banquo’s ghost. This is meaningful because it adds to Macbeth’s state of mind, which is already deteriorating. It relates to his villainous nature because it makes him even more paranoid and unstable. This is significant because it leads to Macbeth’s downfall as he becomes too paranoid and makes bad decisions.
As Macduff debates the ethics of murder, a passage from Act IV of King Lear is quoted: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” This establishes the Shakespearean connection to this play. King Duncan’s words about trust and Macbeth’s subsequent assassination of him reflect this irony. When King Duncan greets Macbeth with “O worthiest cousin,” he responds, “the service and loyalty I owe in performing it amply compensates me.”
Macbeth is being ironic because he is secretly plotting to kill Duncan. The audience is privy to Macbeth’s thoughts and intentions, but King Duncan is not. This creates a sense of dramatic irony, as the audience knows that Macbeth is going to kill Duncan, but Duncan does not. The tension is created because the audience is waiting for Macbeth to act on his thoughts and kill Duncan.
Macbeth’s inner turmoil is also an example of dramatic irony. The audience can see that Macbeth is struggling with his conscience, as he is torn between his loyalty to Duncan and his ambition to be king. Macbeth says “I have no spur /To prick the sides of my intent, but only /Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself /And falls on th’ other” (1.7.25-28). Macbeth is aware that his ambition is driving him to kill Duncan, and this creates a sense of dramatic irony as the audience knows that Macbeth is going to kill Duncan, even though Macbeth himself is unsure about whether he should go through with it.
The tension is created because the audience is waiting to see whether Macbeth will act on his ambitions or not. This sense of suspense and anticipation is one of the main reasons why Shakespeare uses dramatic irony in Macbeth.
Macbeth’s soliloquy at the beginning of Act 3 is also an example of dramatic irony. Macbeth is talking about how he is going to kill Banquo and Fleance, but the audience knows that Macbeth is not going to be successful in his attempts. Macbeth says “I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?” (3.2.13-14). Macbeth is referring to the fact that he has killed Banquo and Fleance, but the audience knows that this is not true. The dramatic irony in this soliloquy creates a sense of suspense as the audience waits to see whether Macbeth will succeed in his plan or not.
When King Duncan arrives at Macbeth’s home, he is invited to dine and have a good time. He is overjoyed and grateful, yet this turns sour when he learns that the hostess whom he is praising is plotting to kill him that night. This symbolizes Macbeth’s duplicity because the outward appearance of his persona contrasts greatly with his genuine spirit.
Macbeth’s dagger speech: Quote: “Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” (Act 2 Scene 1). This section also highlights Macbeth’s state of mind. Macbeth is so full of guilt and anxiety that he starts to hallucinate.
He sees a floating dagger in front of him, taunting him to commit murder. Of course, the dagger is not really there, but Macbeth’s conscience is projecting his fears and desires onto the world around him. This speech is full of dramatic irony because the audience knows that Macbeth is going to kill Duncan, but Macbeth himself does not yet know this. We can see the conflict between his conscience and his ambition tearing him apart.
Macbeth’s murdered of Duncan: Macbeth stabs Duncan while he is asleep in his own bed. The irony is shown because Macbeth had the opportunity to kill Duncan when he was defenceless and yet he chooses not to. This is meaningful because it shows Macbeth’s change in character from being a good man to being evil. He has become power hungry and will do anything to keep hold of the crown, even kill an innocent man. This relates to the play’s dramatic irony as it is unexpected that Macbeth would kill Duncan in such a ruthless way.
Banquo’s murder: Banquo is killed by Macbeth’s hired assassins while he is riding on his horse. The irony is shown because Banquo was Macbeth’s friend and yet Macbeth has him killed in a cold-blooded manner. This is meaningful because it shows how Macbeth’s paranoia has got the better of him and he is now killling people who pose no threat to him. This relates to the play’s dramatic irony as Banquo’s murder is unexpected and shocking.
The tragedy is that Lady Macbeth, the first murderer of Duncan (one who persuaded Macbeth) today despises killing, yet Macbeth, the weaker one from before now loves it. It alludes to diabolical genius by pointing out that no one, not even his closest friend, will be able to stop him in his quest for power. Shakespeare has done this to prepare the audience for greater animosity towards Macbeth.
This is the second time Macbeth has been caught in a lie. The first time was when he claimed he killed Duncan in his sleep. Here, Macbeth tells Banquo that he did not kill him, even though the audience knows that Macbeth hired murderers to do so. Macbeth’s increasingly untrustworthy nature is another example of dramatic irony at work.
In conclusion, Macbeth is a play full of dramatic irony. This is used to create suspense and tension for the audience, as we are constantly aware of things that the characters are not. It also allows us to see the inner workings of Macbeth’s mind, as he struggles with his conscience and wrestles with his ambition.