Francena tells me that some of the students today addressed Macbeth’s plot. This could be interesting. We could deal with plot at several levels–the typical events of a tragedy which call for the fall of a great man, a formula which lays down the pearls of the “plot line.” Tragedy gives us a sense of what “should” happen (1.1 is already significant in this regard). Although, by doing so, it might set a tension between what should happen versus what we wish would not happen. Or we could deal with significant events as they arise as we read. For example, we meet the witches in Act 1 and Duncan getting the story of Macbeth’s military accomplishments just after in scene 2. Which of these scenes is more important in terms of plot? And why should we care? Does the news provided Duncan “propel” MacBeth into his meeting with the witches? Does Scene 2 accomplish something else?
Act I, scene 1 accomplishes setting the tone of the plot. It provides us with the first motif (the supernatural) we see throughout, but also a sense of confusion. Macbeth will later grapple with severe moral confusion. The weird sisters speak in contradictions: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” or, in others words, these 3 weirdos speak truths but conceal them with two meanings which causes disorder and chaos. It could be said that a theme of chaos immediately begins with this short but affective scene. Scene 2 provides bloody foreshadowing of the great amounts of blood that Macbeth will have on his hands later in the play. This scene may “propel” our idea of the bloodshed Macbeth is capable of, but I believe the real “propelling” comes out of the next coupe of scenes when Macbeth’s ambition is propelled to run amuck after hearing the witches prophecies then having one of them confirmed in the very next scene.