Macbeth: A look ahead and some initial thoughts

So, the first read-through of Macbeth is in the books…

Bottom-line: I’m loving this play. I thought I remembered it as being as quick and relentless as an early Mike Tyson fight. Memory served me well here. It’s a brutal play, a weird one, one ripe for discussion (and production, though as we’ve seen, that scares some).

Saw some interesting things in scansion that I want to investigate. I’m seeing some themes popping up throughout: dualities and doubles, the concept of being a man (and consequently of being a woman), the role of fate, the supernatural.

Plus, there’s some fascinating things from a historical perspective (both Shakespearean history and the history in the play, to borrow a phrase from the This Week in Shakespeare podcast).

Anything you guys want to investigate? Let me know in the comments below!

One thought on “Macbeth: A look ahead and some initial thoughts”

  1. I am looking forward to your discussion. Macbeth is one of my favorite plays, and yet…dare I say it? something of a disappointment ultimately.

    Of Shakespeare’s tragedies it has the fiercest, most radical verse, both for the prosody and the imagery, and that is exciting. It also has the most breathtaking plot until the fifth act—we move from shock to shock to shock with no real chance to recover. Several scenes in Macbeth (1. when the witches encounter Macbeth & Banquo, 2. Lady Macbeth reading the letter & her invocation of the spirits, 3. Lady Macbeth’s pre-murder confrontation of her husband, 4. the long, tense murder of Duncan scene, 5. the banquet scene, 6. the slaughter at Macduff’s, 7. the sleepwalking scene) along with Macbeth’s speech in reaction to his wife’s death are as good as Shakespeare gets.

    But the same plot that pile-drives through three-&-a-half acts, stalls when Macbeth seeks out the witches, and sputters at the end of Act 4 in the endless scene between Malcom & Macduff in England. Not even the touching reaction of Macduff to news of the butchering of his family can rescue the scene—in my opinion the least distinguished scene in any of the 4 big tragedies. Not even the blood-chilling sleepwalking scene that follows can get the play fully back on track. After Lady Macbeth’s demise, much of the plot feels mechanical.

    But what a savage and thrilling few acts! And the concentrated poetry of its several great speeches is unmatched.

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