From the first WE see of Macbeth, he is a battle-hardened warrior that does anything for the greater good.


Act II Scene II is where WE first begin to notice the skin under this seemingly impenetrable armour of Macbeth’s aura.

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    We and you are not “slightly colloquial” – they’re far too central and functional parts of vocabulary to have register. They’re used equally in the most informal of colloquial speech and in the most stilted and rigid of royal decrees. It’s sometimes advised to avoid first-person pronouns in certain branches of scientific writing, but that’s nothing to do with register – and at any rate such advice is becoming less and less common, and hardly applies to a simple English essay. Jun 22, 2019 at 8:32
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    Sure, go ahead. But be consistent. Do not mix things up: "The first time we see Macbeth, you know he is troubled."
    – GEdgar
    Jun 22, 2019 at 8:52
  • There's quite a tradition of using authorial we in essays - I don't think there's a problem there. You would be unusual IMO and possibly out of place. It's not that these terms are colloquial in themselves, but there is something over-familiar in departing from a stylistic convention. It's like you're saying 'yeah I know, but I'm too cool for that' - so I understand what you are saying.
    – Minty
    Jun 22, 2019 at 13:15
  • This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network, Writing SE. Though they'll probably say "It depends on who's marking it." POB.
    – Edwin Ashworth
    Jun 22, 2019 at 15:05
  • @Janus I've adjusted the title.
    – Edwin Ashworth
    Jun 22, 2019 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


This is mainly about style — it's not so much colloquial as conversational: the narrator and audience become characters.

It's part of the idea of breaking the fourth wall, where a writer or actors will give a nod to the audience. Think of Eddie Murphy's glances to camera in just about any Eddie Murphy film.

Since you're involving the audience, how well it's received will depend on what they're expecting or will find appropriate. There's no simple answer to this one, as different members of the same academic department will have their own preferences. Some like to feel the essay is a conversation (or, at least, a monologue), while others will want to keep the subject under discussion separate from the people discussing it.

It's less formal, and can appear that the people are more important than the principle, but it's not wrong and many audiences - even of academic essays - will prefer the feeling of being involved.

A different way of doing it would also involve the distinction between active and passive voice:

"When first seen, Macbeth is a battle-hardened warrior that does anything for the greater good."

... but try that with an audience who prefer a conversation and it might lead to accusations of being cold or stuffy.

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    You can also use the third person - "When the audience first sees Macbeth, he is a battle-hardened warrior", or "In an aside to the audience, Iago reveals his evil plot, implicitly including them in his scheme".
    – tryin
    Jun 25, 2019 at 8:24

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