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The Tragedy of Macbeth The Tragedy

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					The Tragedy of
    Macbeth
          By
  William Shakespeare
 The power of Shakespeare
                   Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

  --Macbeth, Act 5; Scene V, The Tragedy of Macbeth
           Globe Theatre: Home of
                        Macbeth
• 1599: Construction completed.
• Boggy ground, south bank of
  Thames River.
• Finest Theatre in the land.
• Estimated Capacity: 3,000 with
  1,500 standing in yard.
• Entrances: two, narrow,
  allowing only one person
  through at a time.
• 1613: Burnt to the ground
  during Henry VIII performance;
  sparks from a fired cannon set
  fire to thatched roof. (Last play
  authored by Shakespeare.)
• Company flag flies on each
  performance day (advertise).
Globe Theatre: Home of
     Macbeth
           • Construction: Wood and thatch
             on brick foundation.
           • Shape: round polygon
             (probably 20 sides).
           • Overall diameter: 30 meters.
           • Height: 12 meters to top of
             gallery; 20 meters to top of
             roof.
           • Central Open Yard: 21 meters.
           • Stage: 10-12 meters wide.
           • Cheapest tickets (one penny)
             for open yard (groundlings).
           • Gallery tickets (two pennies)
             for covered area.
           • Gentlemen’s or Lord’s Rooms:
             covered and screened near
             stage. Most expensive.
          The Business of Being
                Shakespeare
•   Part-owner of Globe Theatre.
•   Head of King’s Men.
•   Playwright and actor.
•   Must mix good business with
    art.
•   Family lives away from city at
    Stratford-upon-Avon.
•   Competition Tough: others try
    to steal plays; no copyright
    laws. Copy-cat plays.
•   Actors received only their lines
    (to prevent whole play from
    being stolen).
•   Scribes make all copies by
    hand.
•   Public officials don’t like
    Theatre atmosphere.
•   Occasional plagues or civil
                                       Martin Droeshout's engraving
    trouble can shut down theatre.     of Shakespeare, from First Folio, 1623.
        The Business of Being an
                           Actor




•   Only men could be an actor; disrespectable occupation for women.
•   Young male teens played female roles.
•   Actors played several parts in several plays during a single season.
•   Each Season: 30 different plays some old, some new.
•   All parts memorized.
•   Actors speak in own accents and wear contemporary costumes.
•   Colors in Costumes: hints to crowd about character (Ex: Macbeth
    wears scarlet cloak over dark clothing; Lady Macbeth in black).
      The Business of Being a
                          Troop
• Full Globe proceeds: 20
  pounds British Sterling.
• Winter: Theatre closed—no
  proceeds.
• Christmas Season: Royal
  Productions for James I.
• Production for King Proceeds:
  10 pounds British Sterling, but
  chance of lavish gifts.
• Winter Season: Private
  performances for rich patrons
  in their mansions.
• Actor’s Troop needed big
  endorsements to support
  production—best came from
  the Royal Court.
            The Business of Being Number
                                              One


                                                                                 (Macbeth at second
(Banquo seeing
long line of kings.)                                                             set of prophesies.)




                       (William Blake, Portrait of Shakespeare, c. 1800-1803).

    •     James I: Liked and endorsed Shakespeare’s troop: became King’s Men
          (formerly Lord Chamberlain’s Men).
    •     Queen Anne and their eldest son, Henry, are patrons of their own troops.
    •     Competition fierce from several acting troops (including all children groups).
    •     Endorsements Necessary for Costs: upkeep of theatre, fees, salaries, props,
          costumes (second most expensive cost).
    •     Costumes purchased or rich patrons donated only to best productions.
             Background of Play




                        (One of few original 1623 editions of First Folio.)

•   Tragedy in five acts.
•   18,301 words: Shortest of all Shakespeare tragedies. No subplots. (King
    James was an impatient audience member.)
•   First performed in about 1606 at London’s Globe Theatre.
•   First appeared in print in 1623 as part of Shakespearean anthology, First
    Folio.
•   Shakespeare drew upon real Scottish-English history from 1577 edition of
    Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed.
Historical Background
          • Loosely based on King
            Macbeth of Scotland.
          • In Gaelic, Macbeth
            means “Son of Life.”
          • Military commander
            under King Duncan I.
          • 1040: Murdered the king
            and assumed throne
            himself.
          • Reigned 14 years before
            Duncan’s son, Malcolm,
            killed Macbeth.
          • Malcolm became
            Scotland’s Malcolm III.
 Literary License with History
            History                             Literary License
1.   Macbeth and Duncan were            1.   Duncan is older, a father
     cousins and about same age.             figure, no relation.
2.   Each ruled adjoining kingdoms      2.   Duncan is king of all Scotland;
     until Duncan is crowned king.           Macbeth is a nobleman and
3.   Duncan killed in battle by              his military commander.
     Macbeth.                           3.   Duncan is murdered in his
4.   Banquo took part in plot to kill        sleep by Macbeth.
     Duncan.                            4.   Banquo is innocent of murder
5.   As king, Macbeth ruled                  plot.
     successfully and well for 14       5.   As king, Macbeth accelerates
     years.                                  his bloody and treacherous
6.   Malcolm kills Macbeth in battle         rule, destroying Scotland.
     and assumes throne.                6.   Macduff corners Macbeth in
                                             his castle, at the foot of his
                                             throne; and Malcolm is
                                             crowned king.
The Center of Action:
Dunsinane Hill
Main Characters in Macbeth
• Macbeth: Military
  commander and heralded
  warrior of Scotland.
• Lady Macbeth: Wife of
  Macbeth, who is an equal
  in will and ambition to her
  husband.
• Banquo: Military
  commander and best
  friend of Macbeth.
• Fleance: Son of Banquo.
Main Characters in Macbeth
                                    • King Duncan: ruler of
                                      Scotland who trusts his
                                      kingdom to Macbeth.
                                    • Malcolm: Oldest son of
                                      Duncan.
                                    • Donalbain: Youngest son
                                      of Duncan.
                                    • Macduff: Like Macbeth, a
                                      Scottish thane; unlike
                                      Macbeth, a man of
                                      integrity.
                                    • Three witches with their
                                      bewitching prophecies.
  Roman Polanski's Macbeth (1971)
Witches and Sorcerers Are
          Real!
             • During Shakespeare’s heyday,
               James I is King of England.
             • Previously, James I was King
               of Scotland when Elizabeth I
               ruled of England.
             • 1591: Coven of witches and
               sorcerers tried to murder
               James I.
             • At trial, their testimony
               convinced James I of their
               authenticity.
             • 1597: James I authored
               Daemonologie (Demonology).
             • 1486: Malleus Maleficarum
               (The Witches’ Hammer).
    Shakespeare plays it smart!




•   1603: James I is crowned King of England and Scotland. James loves the theatre,
    becomes benefactor for Shakespeare troop; renamed “King’s Men” in honor of him.
•   1605: Gunpowder Plot; Roman Catholics, Guy Fawkes, plot to murder Parliament
    and king; guy; November 5th
•   James I is descended from Scottish nobleman, Banquo.
•   Shakespeare makes murder of king the unpardonable sin; Banquo the innocent;
    witches are real tempters—representing the temptation we all face.
•   Play is hit with royalty and public alike.
•   1973: The Exorcist. Frightened viewers—made them sick.
  Three Witches and                  Fate
• Shakespeare calls them “Wyrd
  Sisters.”
• Wyrd: Anglo-Saxon for “fate.”
• 8th Century B.C.: Hesiod, a
  Greek Poet first called them
  “three old hags”; goddesses.
• Clotho: Wove fabric of
  person’s life.
• Lachesis: Determined
  person’s lifespan and destiny.
• Atropos: Cut the threads of the
  fabric of life when time to die.
• No god could change the
  decisions of the three hags.
• Moirae: Greek for fate.
• Parcae: Latin for fate.
         Themes of Macbeth
• The effects of unbridled
  ambition and inordinate lust for
  power.
• Complications of mixing public
  masks and private lives.
• Deception and reality often
  disguise themselves; all things
  are not as they appear.
• The eternal question of fate or
  free will--who decides how we
  are governed?
• The self-consuming lust of
  violence and mayhem.
• Shakespeare’s bloodiest play.
  What is the blood symbolic of?
Bloody and Biblical Allusions



•   4-65 A.D.: Seneca, a dramatist and tutor to Nero.
•   Descriptive, detailed and bloody.
•   1559: Seneca stories translated into English.
•   Shakespeare borrowed descriptive bloody style from Seneca.
•   Psychoanalysist Sigmund Freud: Lady Macbeth is Eve tempting her
    Adam (Act One, Scene VII). Look for other Biblical allusions.
                Symbols and
                Metaphors
• Fear: 48 times as noun, verb
  or root word.
• Blood: 40-plus times in play.
• Night: 40-plus times in play.
• Knocking within (stage
  direction): 10 times.
• Dark Words: terrible, horrible,
  black, evil, devil, etc.
• Spirits and ghosts.
• Various Birds of Prey
• Use of Antithesis: Fair is foul
  and foul is fair.
The Tragedy of Macbeth Today
•   Has remained one of
    Shakespeare’s most popular
    plays.
•   Translated into several languages;
    performed hundreds of times a
    year.
•   Serious actors/actresses are
    challenged by roles—hallmark of
    their resume to play either of two
    leads.
•   Wonderful poetry; not a word is
    wasted.
•   Actor lore: Reputation for being
    unlucky, perhaps even evil.
•   Lines are not quoted from play
    except on stage.
•   Never refer to play by name, only
    “The Scottish Play.”
•   Scholars debate over some of the
    scenes that include witches. Is it
    all Shakespeare?
Castle of Glamis, Today

				
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