Sources: history?

OK, folks, we all know how Shakespeare picks and chooses (a) from whom he steals, (b) how much he steals, and (c) how much he massages those stolen goods. And that’s in his fictional plays. In the histories, he’s been known to compress time, changes ages, and make wholesale changes to his sources. Macbeth, though a tragedy, is no different.

Now, having already taken a look at his borrowings from Holinshed for the human characters and Scot for the not-so-human,  let’s take a look at the “real” history, shall we?

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Macbeth Movie Madness

OK, I’m a sports fan. And I love me some roundball. The NBA Finals are fun and all (especially as it’s shaping up this year… last nigh, whooo), but really nothing compares to the NCAA Tournament, aka “March Madness” aka “Bracketology.” And I can see the thought bubbles rising from your heads, my Bard brethren: “What in the name of great Caesar’s ghost does this have to do with Macbeth?”

Hear me out…

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BBC/Shakespeare’s Globe: The Complete Walk – Macbeth

Yesterday, we had a double-shot of Shake-y goodness: a timely Oxford University Press blog on witches which touches our current play Macbeth, as well as the Project’s first guest correspondent’s review of the recent Kennedy Center panel discussion of Shakespeare. Well, today, because I’m sure you won’t mind, we have another double-bill (see what I did there?)…not only do I have the second in our two(plus)-part discussion of sources for Macbeth, but we also have…

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Sources: part two

A couple of days back, we took a look at the major (historical) sources for Macbeth: Holinshed’s Chronicles, and two other Scottish histories, Hector Boece’s Scotorum Historiae and George Buchanan’s Rerum Scoticarum Historia. Those are fine for the human elements of the story, but what about the not-so-human elements?

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Sources: part one

The most widely cited historical sources for Shakespeare’s Macbeth are Holinshed’s Chronicles and two other Scottish histories, Hector Boece’s Scotorum Historiae and George Buchanan’s Rerum Scoticarum Historia.

Let’s take a look at Holinshed first…

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Podcast 130: Macbeth: Introduction, plus plot synopsis



This week’s economy-sized podcast begins our two month-long discussion of Macbeth with an introduction of the play, including a plot synopsis.

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Macbeth Act Five: down goes Mackers, down goes Mackers!

Previously in Macbeth: Witches, war, heroism, prophecies, and thoughts of murder consume the first act. A floating imaginary dagger, regicide, the death of sleep, flight of the sons, the second act. Suspicions, murder, ghosts and another flight, the third. In Act Four, Macbeth visits the witches and receives warnings but what he thinks are reassuring prophecies. Macbeth’s murderers visit the Macduff castle and kill the absent lord’s wife and children. In England, Macduff convinces Malcolm to return to Scotland and fight for the throne (in what is The. Weirdest. Job Interview. Ever.), before learning that his family has been killed.

We enter the fifth and final act of Macbeth primed for war.

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Curses! Soiled again…

OK, so before we get too far into Macbeth, er The Scottish Play, let’s address the 800-pound gorilla in the room (I know I’m mixing idioms, thank you very much): the infamous curse.

I’m not a superstitious guy. Sure, if my beloved Bruins win their first game of the season, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m wearing that same shirt for the next game. But broken mirrors? Just glass to clean up, baby. Walk under ladders? More stupid than unlucky. Cross black cats? Not a cat guy, so I don’t go out of my way to be near them to begin with. Friday the 13th? Kinda cool, since any month (save that lil’ bastard February in non-leap years) with that day will have at least a portion of five weekends.

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