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  1. 1. By: William Shakespeare
  2. 2. Shakespeare’s Macbeth <ul><li>Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606 for James I of England. </li></ul><ul><li>Shakespeare changed several details, including the role that James’ ancestor, Banquo, played in the murder of King Duncan. </li></ul><ul><li>James had an interest in demonology; there was an underlying cultural belief in magic. </li></ul><ul><li>The Witchcraft Act of 1604 extended the definition of what it meant to be a witch and made the crime punishable by death. </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Source <ul><li>The source for Macbeth is Raphael Holinshed’s The Chronicles of Scotland (1577). </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Real Macbeth <ul><li>The real Macbeth was born around 1005, into a powerful family that ruled the Scottish lands of Moray and Ross. </li></ul><ul><li>The grandson of Malcolm II, Macbeth was in a strong position for the crown. </li></ul><ul><li>Macbeth took Duncan’s crown by force and became High King of Scotland in around 1040. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Stage History of Macbeth <ul><li>Superstition surrounds the play </li></ul><ul><li>Is never called by its name by the players performing it - called “the Scottish play” </li></ul><ul><li>After first performance in 1606, Lady Macbeth died </li></ul><ul><li>An actual murder took place on stage in one production </li></ul><ul><li>There were four deaths during another production </li></ul>
  6. 6. “ Something wicked this way comes!” <ul><li>In early modern England, witchcraft was associated with rebellion and treason </li></ul><ul><li>Witches were transgressive </li></ul><ul><li>Deviant + Female = Witch </li></ul><ul><li>In a witch trial, the burden of proof lay with the woman to prove her innocence. </li></ul><ul><li>Accusations were associated with mundane everyday life: livestock dying, crops failing, babies getting sick </li></ul><ul><li>The evidence was circumstantial </li></ul><ul><li>Mostly widows or spinsters were accused – women on the fringes of society, women living independent of men </li></ul>
  7. 7. Act I: The Stage is Set <ul><li>Existing both marginally and centrally to the play, the witches in Macbeth actually appear in only a few scenes. </li></ul><ul><li>Scholars agree that later scenes were added because the witches were popular among audiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Their introduction in Act I, Scene I establishes the mood and tone of the play </li></ul>“ 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)
  8. 8. The Weird Sisters <ul><li>Women connected with fate or destiny, having a mysterious or unearthly appearance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Represent a community of women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connections to the village witch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shrews in that they are unmarried, powerful, subversive women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bearded women, less than human </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Act 1. Scene 1: The Witches <ul><li>What difference does it make that the play begins with the witches and then switches to the battlefield? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aside from the obvious “when the battle’s lost and won” (1.1.4) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Juxtaposition between the natural and unnatural and how those lines blur </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The witches represent both the natural (Mother Earth) and the unnatural (witchcraft, outcasts) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The battle represents both the natural world of man and the unnatural (war, death) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Act 1. Scene 2: The Battlefield <ul><li>Macbeth and Banquo are the heroes of battle </li></ul><ul><li>They win the victory for Scotland </li></ul><ul><li>Macbeth is granted the title Thane of Cawdor </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What difference does it make that this title was taken from a traitor to the king and transferred to Macbeth? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Duncan: No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Our bosom interest. Go pronounce his present death </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>And with his former title greet Macbeth. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won. (1.2.63-65, 67) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Act 1. Scene 3: The Prophecy <ul><li>Banquo describes the witches’ appearance, how? </li></ul><ul><li>The witches foretell that Macbeth shall be Thane of Cawdor and king. </li></ul><ul><li>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). </li></ul><ul><li>How do Banquo and Macbeth react to these prophecies? </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Macbeth and Banquo respond to the witches’ predictions with an air of disbelief </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the power of the witches lie in the power of suggestion? Do they command the action of the play? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is Macbeth merely a pawn in their game? Or, does Macbeth use the predictions as permission to ruthlessly go after what he wants? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Banquo: “And oftentimes to win us to our harm / The instruments of darkness tell us truths” (1.3.123-124) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Banquo is the voice of reason </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Foreshadows Macbeth’s downfall </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Act 1. Scene 5: Duncan is Doomed <ul><li>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). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>He seems uncertain, hesitant </li></ul></ul><ul><li>At the beginning of Scene 5, Lady Macbeth is also plotting Duncan’s murder. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>She seems positive, determined </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Enter…Lady Macbeth <ul><ul><li>She fears that Macbeth is not ruthless enough to murder </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This suggests that she is more masculine than he at this point </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Role reversal here; yet, she asks the spirits to “unsex” her (1.5.37) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Make her less feminine and more masculine so that she might be able to kill like a man </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Change her milk to gall, erasing the very essence of womanhood </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Act 1. Scene 7: The Plot Thickens <ul><li>She warns Macbeth to look innocent, to behave as the welcoming host, and to hide the truth of his intentions, </li></ul><ul><li>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) </li></ul><ul><li>She tells him to leave everything to her – a definite role reversal </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  16. 16. “ Undaunted mettle” <ul><li>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? </li></ul><ul><li>Lady Macbeth declares that no one will doubt them in their own home, once they’ve displayed their anguish over the king’s death. </li></ul><ul><li>Macbeth responds, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know” (1.7.82). </li></ul>
  17. 17. Act 2: Duncan’s Demise <ul><li>In Scene 1, Macbeth imagines that he sees a floating dagger, handle extended toward him </li></ul><ul><li>His anxiety about the coming deed weighs heavily on him </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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). </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Macbeth murders Duncan (off-stage) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The audience gets the account of the murder as he retells the story to Lady Macbeth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The guards stir, but do not wake sufficiently to realize what is happening </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Macbeth laments “I had most need of blessing and ‘Amen’ / Stuck in my throat” (2.2.35). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lady Macbeth still seems certain in her resolve, “A little water clears us of this deed” (2.2.70). </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. The Murder Discovered <ul><li>In Scene 3, the porter provides comic relief to the tense scenes playing out on stage. </li></ul><ul><li>Duncan’s body is discovered and the guards are the prime suspects. </li></ul><ul><li>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) </li></ul><ul><li>Donaldbain and Malcolm flee the country. What does this suggest? </li></ul><ul><li>Macbeth is made High King of Scotland. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Act 3: King of Scotland <ul><li>Banquo suspects Macbeth has murdered Duncan: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>He begins to wonder if his own prophecy will come true </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Macbeth fears that it will, to the detriment of his own reign </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Macbeth plots the murders of Banquo and Fleance. Why? (3.1.55-65) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>He doesn’t tell Lady Macbeth his plans, even though she asks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>He tells her to “Be innocent of the knowledge” (3.2.45) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There seems to be a switch happening here; Macbeth is growing more certain of himself and of his actions, more masculine </li></ul><ul><li>In Scene 3, Macbeth’s hired murderers kill Banquo; Fleance escapes. </li></ul>
  22. 22. 3.4: The Banquet Scene <ul><li>Following Banquo’s death, his ghost torments Macbeth at the banquet </li></ul><ul><li>Macbeth truly appears to be mad in this scene </li></ul><ul><li>Lady Macbeth makes excuses for him, all the while she is again questioning his manhood </li></ul><ul><li>The first sign that things are unraveling </li></ul>
  23. 23. Act 4: The Apparitions <ul><li>First apparition (an armed head): Beware Macduff </li></ul><ul><li>Second apparition (a bloody babe): No man born of woman can harm Macbeth </li></ul><ul><li>Third apparition (a royal child holding a tree): He will never be vanquished until Great Birnam Wood comes against him </li></ul><ul><li>Fourth apparition (the line of 8 kings): Banquo’s children will be kings </li></ul>
  24. 24. 4.2: The Death of the Macduffs <ul><li>Macbeth plots the death of the House of Macduff </li></ul><ul><li>He really has no motive to kill Lady Macduff and her children; they pose no threat to her </li></ul><ul><li>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) </li></ul><ul><li>Is Macduff fulfilling his duty to the nation? Is he fulfilling the prophecy of the witches? Why does he leave his family alone? </li></ul>
  25. 25. 4.3: Macduff’s Grief <ul><li>Macduff learns of the murders of his wife and children </li></ul><ul><li>Macduff must prove his loyalty to Malcolm and to Scotland </li></ul><ul><li>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) </li></ul><ul><li>What does this suggest about Macduff’s character? </li></ul>
  26. 26. 5.1: Lady Macbeth’s Madness <ul><li>Lady Macbeth has been driven mad by the guilt that she feels over her actions </li></ul><ul><li>Her hands don’t seem clean to her – stained with the blood of those slain, “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” (5.1.31) </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>This is the point where the roles reverse, or are set right </li></ul><ul><li>Lady Macbeth finally behaves in the stereotypical way that a woman would respond to her part in the murder – she loses her mind </li></ul><ul><li>As her strength (and sanity) declines, Macbeth’s increases </li></ul><ul><li>He grows stronger in the aggressive ways of men as she retreats from them. </li></ul>
  28. 28. 5.4: Birnam Wood Marches <ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Macbeth sees the forest marching toward high Dunsinane Hill. </li></ul>
  29. 29. “ Out, out, brief candle…” <ul><li>Macbeth wishes she had died at a more opportune time. </li></ul><ul><li>His “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” speech (5.5.17-28) suggests that life is short and ultimately meaningless. </li></ul><ul><li>“ It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing” (5.5.26-28). </li></ul>
  30. 30. Enter Macduff <ul><li>Macbeth realizes too late that Macduff was from his mother’s womb “untimely ripped” (5.8.15) </li></ul><ul><li>Macbeth “will not yield…Lay on, Macduff, / And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough’” (5.8.28, 33-34). </li></ul><ul><li>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? </li></ul>
  31. 31. The Truth be Told <ul><li>The witches’ prophecies hold true, but Macbeth is caught in the nuances of their predictions, the details he cannot foresee. </li></ul><ul><li>If they are driving the action, did they accomplish their goals? </li></ul><ul><li>If they are only instruments that Macbeth uses to achieve his goals, has he finally gotten what he deserves? </li></ul>
  32. 32. “ Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen” <ul><li>Macduff kills Macbeth and brings his head to Malcolm, the new and rightful High King of Scotland. </li></ul><ul><li>What is the moral of this tale? What are we to learn from Macbeth? </li></ul>