Physical setting

A dramatic setting at night

Shakespeare’s play Macbeth was written in the Elizabethan era around 1506 but is set in the 11th century in the Scottish Middle Ages (make sure you do not confuse those two historical contexts). Scotland in the Middle Ages is depicted as being a rather wild and dangerous place. The bloody battle description we get in Act 1, Scene 2 of the play suggests that war was common and that to be successful men had to be strong, brave and well-respected in order to survive.

The structure of the scenes and the setting itself contribute to the narrative technique of the play. Let us begin with the structure: In the first part of the final act, Act 5, Shakespeare cuts - almost like a modern action film - between the setting of the castle of Dunsinane, where a depressed Macbeth is preparing for his final battle, and the fields surrounding the castle, where Malcolm’s army is advancing. This technique creates a fastpaced struggle (which reflects that of the battlefield outside) and the heroic English army heading for Macbeth’s castle to restore order in Scotland. This builds tension and makes the play exciting. 

If we move on to the setting itself, the scenes in Macbeth take place either outdoors, typically on desolate heaths or battlefields, or indoors, typically within claustrophob...

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