Macbeth revision


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Macbeth revision

  2. 2. Boggle: 5 points per 4+ letter word related to Macbeth; 1 point per other word. D O G U G H O I N S T L I K Y B
  3. 3. THEME - KINGSHIP • Our two main examples of Kingship in Macbeth are Macbeth himself and Duncan. • It is fair to say that the two are held up as opposites to each other. • In Act 1 Scene 2 we see Duncan punishing the treacherous (the former Thane of Cawdor) and rewarding the faithful (Macbeth.) • ―No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive Our bosom interest: go pronounce his present death, And with his former title greet Macbeth.‖
  4. 4. THEME - KINGSHIP • The use of the word ‗bosom‘ is interesting – "bosom interest" means "vital interests," but "bosom" also suggests that a relationship of love should exist between a king and his subject. • Contrast this with Macbeth, whose subjects fear and loathe him in equal measure. • ―And that which should accompany old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have; but, in their stead, Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath, Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.‖ • Macbeth here bemoans the loss of what a king should have – love – but of course, his tyranny is what has caused this.
  5. 5. THEME - KINGSHIP • So, what does it mean to be a good King? And could Macbeth ever have been one? • Perhaps if he had come by it honestly, his attempts to be kind and jovial and just (see the beginning of the banquet scene, before Banquo‘s ghost turns up uninvited) would have led to a more successful reign. • Ultimately, Macbeth‘s murder of Duncan constitutes an overturning of the natural order, and guarantees that he will not reign well.
  6. 6. THEME – THE NATURAL ORDER • This is linked to Kingship, in that Macbeth‘s usurpation of the throne upsets the natural order of things. • People in Shakespeare‘s day believed in what they called The Great Chain of Being, with God at the top, the Angels just below him, and then everything in the Earthly realm below them, in order of importance. • Emperors and Kings were at the very top of this Earthly chain, so by killing Duncan Macbeth has broken the Chain of Being, and invited dire consequences.
  8. 8. THEME – THE NATURAL ORDER • Immediately after Duncan‘s murder, we hear of examples of this overturning of nature in action. • ―On Tuesday last, A falcon, towering in her pride of place, Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd.‖ • The falcon's "pride of place" is the highest point of its flight. And the owl, which usually catches mice on the ground, went up instead of down, and killed a falcon. A falcon is a day creature, and a royal companion, while the owl is a bird of night and death. If things in nature stand for things in human life, King Duncan was the falcon, and Macbeth the owl.
  9. 9. THEME – THE NATURAL ORDER • ―And Duncan's horses—a thing most strange and certain— Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race, Turn'd wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out, Contending 'gainst obedience, as they would make War with mankind.‖ • A "minion" in this context is someone's favourite. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were King Duncan's minions. The King showered them with honours and gifts, but they turned wild and made war on their master. • And of course there are the most unnatural creatures of all – the witches.
  10. 10. THEME – THE SUPERNATURAL • We know that James the VI and Ist had a fascination with witches. He even wrote a book about them. • Therefore, it‘s not surprising that the play, partially written to appeal to and flatter the king, opens with the witches. • From the beginning, the witches are called out as unnatural as it it is mentioned they have beards.
  11. 11. THEME – THE SUPERNATURAL • So, these witches are tied up with the altering of the natural order seen in the rest of the play. Their association is with evil and chaos. • They are also clearly associated with Macbeth, something which is drawn attention to by the language. • ―Fair is foul and foul is fair.‖ - Witches • ―So foul and fair a day I have not seen.‖ – Macbeth • However, these witches serve mostly as catalysts to the action. More potent impetus comes from Macbeth himself, and his wife.
  12. 12. THEME - AMBITION • All of Shakespeare‘s tragic heroes (and you could argue that Macbeth is one, despite his tyranny) have a simple flaw. For Hamlet, it‘s indecision. For Coriolanus, it‘s pride. For Othello, it‘s jealousy. For Macbeth it‘s clearly ambition. • Macbeth really wants to be king. The witches speak to his secret thoughts at their first meeting, which is why he reacts so strangely. • ―Why do you start and seem to fear things that do sound so fair?‖
  13. 13. THEME - AMBITION • Despite this ambition, Macbeth is considered too weak by his wife to actually do what would need to be done. • ―Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great; Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it.‖ • Therefore it‘s up to Lady Macbeth to take charge. And her ambition to be Queen almost outstrips his desire to be King.
  14. 14. THEME - GENDER • The gender politics behind this relationship is quite interesting. In the beginning, it seems as if Lady Macbeth is the one that wears the trousers in this relationship. She takes charge of the plans, she bullies Macbeth along, she uses every tool at her disposal to make sure the murder happens. • Interestingly, Lady Macbeth seems to believe this will require the rejection of her gender, as demonstrated in this famous speech: • ―Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty!‖ • And here: • ―Come to my woman's breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers‖
  15. 15. THEME - GENDER • Again, milk is mentioned. This seems to be symbolic, with milk representing the nurturing, warm aspects of traditional femininity. Too much of this in Macbeth makes him ―weak‖. • Lady Macbeth then goes on to attack Macbeth‘s masculinity when he hesitates. This culminates in her horrific speech about her potentially murdering a baby. She seems to have cast off her femininity absolutely. • In Lady Macbeth‘s eyes, masculinity is strength and femininity is weakness. But that strength is tied up in violence and cruelty.
  16. 16. SUMMARY • Macbeth is one of Shakespeare‘s shortest plays, but it is rich in interlinked thematic elements. • Key scenes to mine for quotes: • Act 1 Scene 3 – Meeting the witches • Act 1 Scene 7 – Macbeth‘s hesitation • Act 2 Scene 1 – The dagger speech • Act 2 Scene 2 – The murder • Act 3 Scene 1 – Macbeth sets up Banquo‘s murder • Act 3 Scene 4 – The banquet • Act 4 Scene 1 – Second visit to witches • Act 5 Scene 1 – Sleepwalking • Act 5 Scene 5 – Lady Macbeth‘s death; candle speech.