Macbeth and the rhetoric of political forms
in Shakespeare and Scotland
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One needs to find ways to recognize the forms language takes as crucial to the cognitive, philosophical processes that are the practice of literature. This chapter discusses rhetorical notions of decorum into a political sphere. There are three modes of political thinking that can be differentiated according to the classical division of oratory into three modes: the deliberative, the forensic, and the epideictic. Each displays a different aspect of the constitutional criterion of fit. The chapter considers the first two modes. The political notion of fit provides William Shakespeare with his most important criterion for the arraignment of Macbeth. The poor fit between Macbeth's tyrannical style and Scottish kingship is expressed in part according to the imagery that Thomas Smith and Edmund Spenser had elaborated. Throughout the play, Macbeth, images of ill-fitting clothing help to point out to the audience where there has been unmerited accession to social persons.

Editors: Willy Maley and Andrew Murphy


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