, and is always at least founded upon some motive: but the
chaos of magic bewilders the mind.
Anne Louise Germaine de
Staël, 1800 1
Macbeth ’s storms are
reminiscent of storms elsewhere. In the play, we have the meaning of
remarkable weather, signs and portents debated, as in Julius
Caesar ; we
Scottish identity, becomes the
driving-force of much of the best creative writing about Scotland in the
1990s’. 10 What is characteristic of the literary work Craig
identifies is also, I would suggest, the dominant signature of filmic
representations and, in particular, of recent interpretations of
Macbeth on screen. By concentrating on one feature film of
Macbeth (Jeremy Freeston
absolute but embodied ones: the
desirability and justice of political forms depends on fit.
Smith and Spenser’s deliberative mode generates normative
description that leans towards future-oriented policy statements, the
evaluation of tragic actions in the distant past marks
Macbeth ’s dominant mode as forensic. The important moment
(4.1) in which the play breaks into an
In the introduction to Part I of the book, I have attempted to provide a brief summary of the concept of film noir , the characteristics of the gangster film and the strong connections between the two conventions. It is of course unsurprising that within Shakespeare’s dramatic oeuvre it is typically the tragedies that find the most welcoming adapting environment in film noir and gangster narratives, as several versions of Hamlet , Othello and Macbeth can testify in the analyses later in this chapter, even though other source texts have also been
Knowing William Shakespeare better, we are better equipped to know his plays. Better knowing his plays brings us closer to knowing him. This book suggests that Shakespeare wrote not only for the mass audience, but simultaneously for that stratum of cognoscenti whom Gabriel Harvey dubbed 'the wiser sort.' It identifies many passages in the plays which Shakespeare resolves famous cruces which scholars have never been able to unravel, and casts new light on Shakespeare's mind and method. Shakespeare wrote into Julius Caesar more than one passage intelligible only to that handful of the wiser sort who had read Plutarch and knew their Suetonius. Into Macbeth Shakespeare injected a detail accessible only to the few intrepid souls brave or reckless enough to have cast the horoscope of King James I. We find a poem in Hamlet, where the prince invites his love and bandies matters of cosmology which were burning issues (literally) throughout Shakespeare's lifetime. While Julius Caesar's old Julian calendar prevailed in England its rival, the scientifically correct Gregorian reformed calendar, dominated most of Europe. Shakespeare suffused his plays with references to calendrical anomalies, as seen in Othello. By relating Shakespeare's texts, the Renaissance calendars and the liturgy, the book produces a lexicon apt for parsing the time-riddles in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare handled religious subjects, examined and interrogated the dogmas of the received religions, and parodied the Crucifixion by exploiting Holinshed's account of the persecution and assassination of York.
This book explores, from a variety of critical perspectives, the playwright's place in Scotland and the place of Scotland in his work. The influence of Scotland on William Shakespeare's writing, and later on his reception, is set alongside the dramatic effects that Shakespeare's work had on the development of Scottish literature. The Shakespeare's work of Scottish literature stretches from the Globe to globalisation, and from Captain Jamy and King James to radical productions at the Citizens' Theatre in Glasgow. Shakespeare have strong Scottish connections by virtue of his theatre company's being brought under the sponsorship of the Scottish king James VI immediately after his accession to the English throne in 1603. Jonathan Goldberg and Alvin Kernan have traced the impact of royal patronage on Shakespeare's work after the Union, finding Scottish themes at play not just in Macbeth, but also in Cymbeline, King Lear, Hamlet, and in other plays. Then, the book outlines some of the issues and problems raised by Scotland and Scottish history for English readers in the last decade of Elizabeth's reign. Shakespeare wrote his English plays in Elizabeth's reign and his British plays after 1603, though Henry V, first performed in 1599, might be regarded as a proto-British play. Unlike Henry V, Shakespeare's most English play, where national identity is of the essence, in Macbeth, Scotland is a blot on the landscape. Shakespeare's political drama moves from a sense of England and Scotland as independent kingdoms into an alignment with the views of Unionist King James.
Whether the apocalyptic storm of King Lear or the fleeting thunder imagery of Hamlet, the shipwrecks of the comedies or the thunderbolt of Pericles, there is an instance of storm in every one of William Shakespeare's plays. This is the first comprehensive study of Shakespeare's storms. Shakespeare was remarkably fond of storms, not only in the stage effects he so often calls for, but in the metaphors and similes he gives to his characters. Shakespeare's storms can be read alongside a wide range of storms written by his contemporaries. Several of these other playwrights engage with audience expectations just as Shakespeare does, and utilise them for aesthetic effect. This book argues that Shakespeare's investment in storm in Julius Caesar is a canny, financial one, for Shakespeare seriously considered the impact of the special effects of thunder and lightning when writing staged storms. King Lear speaks to ecocritical ideas about wilderness and shows that the play's representation of nature has been misunderstood. Macbeth details the way in which early modern anxieties about the supernatural allow for, or prompt, a play with discrete weather systems. The book shows that its 'lasting storm' is a performance aesthetic that bridges the divisions and allows us to think more carefully about them. The Tempest highlights the dramatic quality of its presentation of nature. Storms are an important metaphorical figure throughout Shakespeare's plays. They also show Shakespeare testing the limits of theatre and audience before those limits are established.
This book is a study of theatre and sovereignty that situates William Shakespeare's plays in the contraflow between two absolutisms of early modern England: the aesthetic and the political. It is a book about art and power on Shakespeare's stage, and argues that his plays are systematically engaged in untying freedom from royalty by dismantling sovereignty in all its forms. The book tracks the pre-Kantian nucleus of willed nonentity or interested disinterestedness in Shakespeare's own recorded words. The passive aggression of the creaturely voice that answers power back with the delinquent alterity of such a bad echo is found to be embodied in Shakespeare's dependent relations with his own Tudor overlords. In Julius Caesar, cries of 'peace, freedom, and liberty!' reverberate within the monumental irony of the Globe playhouse's imitation imperial design. The book views Hamlet as the great refusal of the absolutist system symbolized by certain triumphal facades. It considers King Lear as a staging of the challenge to speak freely by command which confronted the dramatist when the players were, after all, co-opted to proclaim the Stuart monarch's 'Free and Absolute' power. Shakespeare's obsession with doubleness arises in Macbeth from the play's barbaric circumstances. The book also argues that Antony and Cleopatra be viewed as an equivocation before the regime of absolutism, and a tactical surrender to the perspective technology focused on the sovereign only in order to subvert it.
Transformations of witchcraft in Macbeth discourse
William C. Carroll
The earliest Scottish chronicles of the reign of Macbeth do not mention witches, witchcraft, or the supernatural.
The first of these, the Chronicle of Marianus Scotus (written c. 1082, after the historical Macbeth's death in 1057), states the entire story in the briefest terms: ‘Duncan, the king of Scotland, was killed in autumn (on the nineteenth day before the Kalends of September,) by his earl, Macbeth, Findlaech's son; who succeeded to the kingdom, [and reigned] for seventeen years
Macbeth’s national identity in the eighteenth century
One of the best-known features of
Macbeth is its alias. Such is the notoriety of the
misadventure apparently visited upon those foolhardy enough to utter
‘Macbeth’ within a theatre, that it is frequently referred
to as ‘the Scottish play’, even by those without a
superstitious bent. 1
The adoption of this moniker, like the avoidance of walking under