Strong Feelings in Macbeth and the Old Nurse's Story
By examining ‘The Old Nurse’s Story’ and ‘Macbeth’, in detail, compare and contrast how Elizabeth Gaskell and Shakespeare explore strong feelings in these two texts.
‘Macbeth’ was most likely written before the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 during the Jacobean era and it is thought that Shakespeare wrote the play in order to compliment the current King, James I. Shakespeare adapted his source material from ‘Holinshed’s Chronicles’; and one way he did this was by giving the audience full access to Macbeth’s tortured mind, so they could witness Macbeth’s most powerful emotions. The play also reflects a widespread fascination with witchcraft and Shakespeare exploits this interest for dramatic effect. In 1597, James I published his own book
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Rosamond in the middle of the night, Gaskell uses pathetic fallacy to create a sense of fear and suspense by describing the sky which ‘hung heavy and black over the white earth, as if the night had never fully gone away’. This adds to the miserable atmosphere, as when it snows, the mysterious house darkens and the old lord plays the organ more, which evokes the feeling of foreboding and confusion, as the audience still do not know who is really playing the organ, considering the old lord is supposed to have passed away a long time ago. The oxymoron of ‘black’ and ‘white’ emphasises the darkness, which contributes to a depressing ambience. Gaskell has personified the air by using the word ‘hung’, which creates a sense of loneliness. She introduces the air as a character in an attempt to add another person to the room, to make the situation seem less solitary. The weather also creates a sense of impending doom, as the air is made to seem predatory and harsh by the words ‘biting and keen’.
The threat of the bad weather also suggests dark events to come. The frost reflects the emotional coldness of Miss. Furnivall, who has also become lifeless and dull after the weather has become worse. Gaskell uses pathetic fallacy to bring out and reflects the characters emotions.
However, in Macbeth, Shakespeare uses pathetic fallacy to encourage the audience to anticipate later events. By using ‘thunder, lightning and in rain’, the Jacobean audience would assume that