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    Macbeth Macbeth Presentation Transcript

    • By: William Shakespeare
    • Shakespeare’s Macbeth
      • Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606 for James I of England.
      • Shakespeare changed several details, including the role that James’ ancestor, Banquo, played in the murder of King Duncan.
      • James had an interest in demonology; there was an underlying cultural belief in magic.
      • The Witchcraft Act of 1604 extended the definition of what it meant to be a witch and made the crime punishable by death.
    • The Source
      • The source for Macbeth is Raphael Holinshed’s The Chronicles of Scotland (1577).
      • It outlines the life and career of the real Macbeth, from his first meeting with the witches to his death at the hands of Macduff.
    • The Real Macbeth
      • The real Macbeth was born around 1005, into a powerful family that ruled the Scottish lands of Moray and Ross.
      • The grandson of Malcolm II, Macbeth was in a strong position for the crown.
      • Macbeth took Duncan’s crown by force and became High King of Scotland in around 1040.
    • Stage History of Macbeth
      • Superstition surrounds the play
      • Is never called by its name by the players performing it - called “the Scottish play”
      • After first performance in 1606, Lady Macbeth died
      • An actual murder took place on stage in one production
      • There were four deaths during another production
    • “ Something wicked this way comes!”
      • In early modern England, witchcraft was associated with rebellion and treason
      • Witches were transgressive
      • Deviant + Female = Witch
      • In a witch trial, the burden of proof lay with the woman to prove her innocence.
      • Accusations were associated with mundane everyday life: livestock dying, crops failing, babies getting sick
      • The evidence was circumstantial
      • Mostly widows or spinsters were accused – women on the fringes of society, women living independent of men
    • Act I: The Stage is Set
      • Existing both marginally and centrally to the play, the witches in Macbeth actually appear in only a few scenes.
      • Scholars agree that later scenes were added because the witches were popular among audiences.
      • Their introduction in Act I, Scene I establishes the mood and tone of the play
      “ Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (1.1.12) What does this statement suggest? Foreshadowing? Macbeth echoes this line when he says, “So foul and fair a day I have not seen” (1.3.36)
    • The Weird Sisters
      • Women connected with fate or destiny, having a mysterious or unearthly appearance
        • Represent a community of women
        • Connections to the village witch
        • Shrews in that they are unmarried, powerful, subversive women
        • Bearded women, less than human
    • Act 1. Scene 1: The Witches
      • What difference does it make that the play begins with the witches and then switches to the battlefield?
        • Aside from the obvious “when the battle’s lost and won” (1.1.4)
        • Juxtaposition between the natural and unnatural and how those lines blur
          • The witches represent both the natural (Mother Earth) and the unnatural (witchcraft, outcasts)
          • The battle represents both the natural world of man and the unnatural (war, death)
    • Act 1. Scene 2: The Battlefield
      • Macbeth and Banquo are the heroes of battle
      • They win the victory for Scotland
      • Macbeth is granted the title Thane of Cawdor
        • What difference does it make that this title was taken from a traitor to the king and transferred to Macbeth?
          • Duncan: No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive
          • Our bosom interest. Go pronounce his present death
          • And with his former title greet Macbeth.
          • What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won. (1.2.63-65, 67)
    • Act 1. Scene 3: The Prophecy
      • Banquo describes the witches’ appearance, how?
      • The witches foretell that Macbeth shall be Thane of Cawdor and king.
      • The witches foretell that Banquo will be “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater…Not so happy, yet much happier”…and shall beget kings though he be none (1.3.63-65).
      • How do Banquo and Macbeth react to these prophecies?
      • Macbeth and Banquo respond to the witches’ predictions with an air of disbelief
        • Does the power of the witches lie in the power of suggestion? Do they command the action of the play?
        • Is Macbeth merely a pawn in their game? Or, does Macbeth use the predictions as permission to ruthlessly go after what he wants?
          • Banquo: “And oftentimes to win us to our harm / The instruments of darkness tell us truths” (1.3.123-124)
          • Banquo is the voice of reason
          • Foreshadows Macbeth’s downfall
    • Act 1. Scene 5: Duncan is Doomed
      • At the end of Scene 4, Macbeth is contemplating murder so that he might be made king: “Stars, Hide your fires, / Let not light see my black and deep desires” (1.4.50-51).
        • He seems uncertain, hesitant
      • At the beginning of Scene 5, Lady Macbeth is also plotting Duncan’s murder.
        • She seems positive, determined
    • Enter…Lady Macbeth
        • She fears that Macbeth is not ruthless enough to murder
        • This suggests that she is more masculine than he at this point
        • Role reversal here; yet, she asks the spirits to “unsex” her (1.5.37)
          • Make her less feminine and more masculine so that she might be able to kill like a man
          • Change her milk to gall, erasing the very essence of womanhood
    • Act 1. Scene 7: The Plot Thickens
      • She warns Macbeth to look innocent, to behave as the welcoming host, and to hide the truth of his intentions,
      • When he begins to change his mind, she encourages him by saying, “Screw your courage to the sticking place / And we’ll not fail” (1.7.61-62)
      • She tells him to leave everything to her – a definite role reversal
      • She is transgressive in this scene – stepping outside the bounds of women’s roles in society, appropriating the speech and mannerisms of men, much like the witches
    • “ Undaunted mettle”
      • Macbeth suggests that his wife should “Bring forth men-children only, / For thy undaunted mettle should compose / Nothing but males” (1.7.72-74). What does he infer?
      • Lady Macbeth declares that no one will doubt them in their own home, once they’ve displayed their anguish over the king’s death.
      • Macbeth responds, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know” (1.7.82).
    • Act 2: Duncan’s Demise
      • In Scene 1, Macbeth imagines that he sees a floating dagger, handle extended toward him
      • His anxiety about the coming deed weighs heavily on him
      • In Scene 2, Lady Macbeth takes drugged nightcaps to the king’s guards and then lays their daggers in plain sight for Macbeth to find. Her resolve begins to crack.
        • She notes, “I laid their daggers ready, / He could not miss ’em. Had he (Duncan) not resembled / My father as he slept, I had done’t” (2.2.11-13).
      • Macbeth murders Duncan (off-stage)
        • The audience gets the account of the murder as he retells the story to Lady Macbeth
          • The guards stir, but do not wake sufficiently to realize what is happening
          • Macbeth laments “I had most need of blessing and ‘Amen’ / Stuck in my throat” (2.2.35).
          • Macbeth’s “sleep no more” speech (2.2.38-46) suggests that he has murdered peaceful sleep as well – in fact, the two will not sleep well again for the remainder of the play.
          • He is so rattled that he forgets to leave the daggers with the guards (evidence), but brings them to his chamber – Lady Macbeth returns them to the guards’ bedchamber.
          • Lady Macbeth still seems certain in her resolve, “A little water clears us of this deed” (2.2.70).
    • The Murder Discovered
      • In Scene 3, the porter provides comic relief to the tense scenes playing out on stage.
      • Duncan’s body is discovered and the guards are the prime suspects.
      • Macbeth murders the guards before they can be questioned, saying, “Who could refrain, / That had a heart to love and in that heart / Courage to make’s love known? (2.3.112-113)
      • Donaldbain and Malcolm flee the country. What does this suggest?
      • Macbeth is made High King of Scotland.
    • Act 3: King of Scotland
      • Banquo suspects Macbeth has murdered Duncan:
        • Thou has it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird women promis’d, and I fear Thou played’st most foully for’t” (3.1.1-3)
        • He begins to wonder if his own prophecy will come true
        • Macbeth fears that it will, to the detriment of his own reign
      • Macbeth plots the murders of Banquo and Fleance. Why? (3.1.55-65)
        • He doesn’t tell Lady Macbeth his plans, even though she asks
        • He tells her to “Be innocent of the knowledge” (3.2.45)
      • There seems to be a switch happening here; Macbeth is growing more certain of himself and of his actions, more masculine
      • In Scene 3, Macbeth’s hired murderers kill Banquo; Fleance escapes.
    • 3.4: The Banquet Scene
      • Following Banquo’s death, his ghost torments Macbeth at the banquet
      • Macbeth truly appears to be mad in this scene
      • Lady Macbeth makes excuses for him, all the while she is again questioning his manhood
      • The first sign that things are unraveling
    • Act 4: The Apparitions
      • First apparition (an armed head): Beware Macduff
      • Second apparition (a bloody babe): No man born of woman can harm Macbeth
      • Third apparition (a royal child holding a tree): He will never be vanquished until Great Birnam Wood comes against him
      • Fourth apparition (the line of 8 kings): Banquo’s children will be kings
    • 4.2: The Death of the Macduffs
      • Macbeth plots the death of the House of Macduff
      • He really has no motive to kill Lady Macduff and her children; they pose no threat to her
      • Lady Macduff laments that she has been abandoned by her husband; he has left them alone, knowing that Macbeth will come for them; she calls him a traitor (4.2.4-5)
      • Is Macduff fulfilling his duty to the nation? Is he fulfilling the prophecy of the witches? Why does he leave his family alone?
    • 4.3: Macduff’s Grief
      • Macduff learns of the murders of his wife and children
      • Macduff must prove his loyalty to Malcolm and to Scotland
      • In his grief, Malcolm tells Macduff that he must “Dispute it like a man.” Macduff responds, “I shall do so: / But I must also feel it as a man” (4.3.222-224)
      • What does this suggest about Macduff’s character?
    • 5.1: Lady Macbeth’s Madness
      • Lady Macbeth has been driven mad by the guilt that she feels over her actions
      • Her hands don’t seem clean to her – stained with the blood of those slain, “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” (5.1.31)
      • This is the point where the roles reverse, or are set right
      • Lady Macbeth finally behaves in the stereotypical way that a woman would respond to her part in the murder – she loses her mind
      • As her strength (and sanity) declines, Macbeth’s increases
      • He grows stronger in the aggressive ways of men as she retreats from them.
    • 5.4: Birnam Wood Marches
      • The first of the prophecies comes true as the men of malcolm’s army cut down boughs and carry them so that their numbers are masked
      • Macbeth sees the forest marching toward high Dunsinane Hill.
    • “ Out, out, brief candle…”
      • Macbeth wishes she had died at a more opportune time.
      • His “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” speech (5.5.17-28) suggests that life is short and ultimately meaningless.
      • “ It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing” (5.5.26-28).
    • Enter Macduff
      • Macbeth realizes too late that Macduff was from his mother’s womb “untimely ripped” (5.8.15)
      • Macbeth “will not yield…Lay on, Macduff, / And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough’” (5.8.28, 33-34).
      • Does Macbeth redeem himself just a little in this final act of bravery? Has he been restored to the “brave Macbeth” (1.2.16) we saw at the beginning of the play?
    • The Truth be Told
      • The witches’ prophecies hold true, but Macbeth is caught in the nuances of their predictions, the details he cannot foresee.
      • If they are driving the action, did they accomplish their goals?
      • If they are only instruments that Macbeth uses to achieve his goals, has he finally gotten what he deserves?
    • “ Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen”
      • Macduff kills Macbeth and brings his head to Malcolm, the new and rightful High King of Scotland.
      • What is the moral of this tale? What are we to learn from Macbeth?