Dramatic irony plays an important and interesting role in Macbeth. Firstly, the phrase must not contain ironical statements as those of Lennox in the Seven Scene of Act III. Secondly, the phrase is also to be contrasted with the lesser drama of fortune or other circumstances. Thirdly, the term, dramatic irony, clearly communicates the point of the characters acting or saying something ironic.
Shakespeare first used the term drama of ironical, when he wrote King Lear. The king, affected by the death of his son Mowbray, says, ‘Nay, if I were born to die at this time, I had rather be born to serve, than to serve at the pleasure of another.’ This dramatic irony carries the sense of the audience that the king cares for the others, even if he is preoccupied with his own happiness.
Dramatic irony is found throughout the play, but is especially apparent in Macbeth’s character. At the beginning of the play, when Macbeth is placed in the center of the throne, surrounded by the people who are willing to rule him, and Macduff, one of his enemies, he speaks with calmness and poignancy. He then proceeds to murder Macduff, but not before telling the people what he plans to do to them, if they fall into disobeying him: he will behead them all and hang their heads until they come back to England. It is this ominous comparison between the seriousness with which Macbeth speaks and his actual actions which makes this play so significant.
However, by the end of the play, Macbeth has fallen completely out of his Ironical nature. He is no longer capable of ironical speech, and the audience knows it. But is there really anything to lose by having a little Ironical? Is there anything that prevents us from feeling sorry for Macbeth? And if we do feel sorry for him, what does that mean for the other characters?
For starters, it means that Macbeth has achieved in this play his most accomplished role – he has killed the one person who was supposed to prevent him from descending further into madness. However, in order for us to feel sorry for Macbeth, we have to detach ourselves from the tragic circumstances of his life and from the social conditions that produced those events. If Shakespeare didn’t want us to feel sorry for Macbeth, he wouldn’t have written a play which made such an important point.
The importance of ironical comedies goes far beyond the mere development of Macbeth’s character. Far from being a sign of decline in culture and intellect, they suggest a kind of intellectual stimulation and, where possible, hope. The most memorable scene in Macbeth is when he accusesane of adultery, and when the women are brought to the cart carrying their husbands’ dead bodies, Macbeth’s first instinct is to push them into the river, but then he realises that what he is doing is not right and that they are still lovers. This suggests to the audience that even if he murders of these women, they are not doomed to be his future victims. So, even while Macbeth murders for revenge, we know that he will ultimately find true love and happiness – just as in Melville when the last of the townspeople kill themselves in order to avoid being sold into slavery. The play also suggests that whereas earlier in his career Macbeth was the butt of many cruel jokes, by the end of the play he is revered as a great and powerful leader.