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cheryl_shell
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Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?

There are many who love to hate Lady Macbeth, and with good reason, it seems. But maybe we should give her a break. Could there be a softer side to Macbeth's wife? It's certainly hard to find one in the first act, especially since when we meet her, she is criticizing her husband's being "too full o' th' milk of human kindness" (1.5.16), and lacking in the "illness [that] should attend" (19) greatness--that is, "direst cruelty" (42)--a quality Lady Macbeth requests for herself from the "murd'ring ministers" (47), the "spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts" (39-40).

Not only is she plotting to murder Duncan, her king and honored guest, she's asking for help from the forces of darkness to do it! Hard to imagine making a worse first impression. But there's more. In scene seven, when Macbeth has doubts, she calls him a coward, tells him to suck it up, to "screw [his] courage to the sticking-place" (7.60), and rants about dashing in babies' heads rather than break a promise to do a murder.

Such talk makes me think that Shakespeare wanted us to find no good in Lady M. Would you agree?

Yet, hating her as we do in the beginning, how can we feel sympathy for her later, when she goes mad and meets an unfortunate end?

And really, let's face it--when it comes down to the actual murder, how much does she do? She talks the talk, but does she walk the walk?

In comparison with her husband, who's the real villain here?
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Everyman
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?



cheryl_shell wrote:
There are many who love to hate Lady Macbeth, and with good reason, it seems.

But realistically, haven't many would-be rulers done much worse things to get or hold a crown (or dictatorship, same thing), and do we look on them with the same revulsion we give to Lady M? English, and world, history is replete with men killing kings, either themselves or through deputies, to gain power for themselves. Is it because she is a woman that we single out Lady M for such condemnation? I this just an example of gender bias?
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Laurel
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?



Everyman wrote:


cheryl_shell wrote:
There are many who love to hate Lady Macbeth, and with good reason, it seems.

But realistically, haven't many would-be rulers done much worse things to get or hold a crown (or dictatorship, same thing), and do we look on them with the same revulsion we give to Lady M? English, and world, history is replete with men killing kings, either themselves or through deputies, to gain power for themselves. Is it because she is a woman that we single out Lady M for such condemnation? I this just an example of gender bias?




I think they are all agreeing with the witches in 1.1: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." I don't like their philosophy at all.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?

Shakespeare does intend to find Lady Macbeth villianous. After all, it's LM who pushes Macbeth to do it after he decides not to; it's LM who comes up with the plan. LM is definitely a woman driven by ambition.

But then again, so is Macbeth. He is the one who first thinks of murder; he is the one who allows himself to be persuaded to go through with the plan. Macbeth is driven by his own ambitions as well. They are a definite pair of villians, each deserving of the other.
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Choisya
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?

Making women the scapegoat, the 'power behind the throne', is certainly not a new idea in history but all murders should earn our revulsion and this murder, one of a king, would certainly earn the revulsion of an Elizabethan audience because it would upset the natural order of things as supposedly ordained by God.

By calling upon demons and the supernatural to aid her, Lady Macbeth does become the Fourth Witch and although we, with our modern sensibilities, might feel compassion for her when she lost her mind, the Elizabethan audience would see that as God ordained - her rightful come-uppance and a warning to all those who might do the same.




Everyman wrote:


cheryl_shell wrote:
There are many who love to hate Lady Macbeth, and with good reason, it seems.

But realistically, haven't many would-be rulers done much worse things to get or hold a crown (or dictatorship, same thing), and do we look on them with the same revulsion we give to Lady M? English, and world, history is replete with men killing kings, either themselves or through deputies, to gain power for themselves. Is it because she is a woman that we single out Lady M for such condemnation? I this just an example of gender bias?


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Phantom
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?

Well perhaps Shakespeare wanted to add a female antagonist in his work. Maybe he wanted to shatter all gender restrictions of the time period. Most of you may know, that in his time, only men were permitted to preform in drama. Perhaps Shakespeare wanted to change that by giving a female villanous quailties.

The Phantom
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cheryl_shell
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?



Phantom wrote:
Well perhaps Shakespeare wanted to add a female antagonist in his work. Maybe he wanted to shatter all gender restrictions of the time period. Most of you may know, that in his time, only men were permitted to preform in drama. Perhaps Shakespeare wanted to change that by giving a female villanous quailties.

The Phantom




I'm guessing Lady M would have been a plumb role for an actor!
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friery
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?

I think there's room for sympathy for Lady M. It appears that she has had a child, now dead.

In Act 1, Scene VII, she says,

"I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me..."

Of course, this is immediately before she says she'd sooner dash the baby's brains out before deviating from the course that she and her husband had set:

"I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this."

So, Shakespeare gives with one hand and takes with the other.





cheryl_shell wrote:
There are many who love to hate Lady Macbeth, and with good reason, it seems. But maybe we should give her a break. Could there be a softer side to Macbeth's wife? It's certainly hard to find one in the first act, especially since when we meet her, she is criticizing her husband's being "too full o' th' milk of human kindness" (1.5.16), and lacking in the "illness [that] should attend" (19) greatness--that is, "direst cruelty" (42)--a quality Lady Macbeth requests for herself from the "murd'ring ministers" (47), the "spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts" (39-40).

Not only is she plotting to murder Duncan, her king and honored guest, she's asking for help from the forces of darkness to do it! Hard to imagine making a worse first impression. But there's more. In scene seven, when Macbeth has doubts, she calls him a coward, tells him to suck it up, to "screw [his] courage to the sticking-place" (7.60), and rants about dashing in babies' heads rather than break a promise to do a murder.

Such talk makes me think that Shakespeare wanted us to find no good in Lady M. Would you agree?

Yet, hating her as we do in the beginning, how can we feel sympathy for her later, when she goes mad and meets an unfortunate end?

And really, let's face it--when it comes down to the actual murder, how much does she do? She talks the talk, but does she walk the walk?

In comparison with her husband, who's the real villain here?

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Laurel
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?


friery wrote:
I think there's room for sympathy for Lady M. It appears that she has had a child, now dead.

In Act 1, Scene VII, she says,

"I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me..."

Of course, this is immediately before she says she'd sooner dash the baby's brains out before deviating from the course that she and her husband had set:

"I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this."

So, Shakespeare gives with one hand and takes with the other.






Or dashes, you might say.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Everyman
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?



friery wrote:
I think there's room for sympathy for Lady M. It appears that she has had a child, now dead.


Actually, it turns out that her child didn't die, but because she was so ill with childbirth and Macbeth was off fighting wars and unable to help, her child was taken by their friend Banquo and raised as his own son. So the weird transvestites were wrong that Macbeth's progeny wouldn't rule; they would, through his natural son Fleance.
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Choisya
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?

Interesting idea Everyman:smileyhappy:.



Everyman wrote:


friery wrote:
I think there's room for sympathy for Lady M. It appears that she has had a child, now dead.


Actually, it turns out that her child didn't die, but because she was so ill with childbirth and Macbeth was off fighting wars and unable to help, her child was taken by their friend Banquo and raised as his own son. So the weird transvestites were wrong that Macbeth's progeny wouldn't rule; they would, through his natural son Fleance.


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cheryl_shell
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?


Everyman wrote:


friery wrote:
I think there's room for sympathy for Lady M. It appears that she has had a child, now dead.


Actually, it turns out that her child didn't die, but because she was so ill with childbirth and Macbeth was off fighting wars and unable to help, her child was taken by their friend Banquo and raised as his own son. So the weird transvestites were wrong that Macbeth's progeny wouldn't rule; they would, through his natural son Fleance.




Interesting idea, and not outside the realm of possibility! As you may know, the Nahum Tate version of King Lear (written in the late 17th century) changes the tragic ending completely, even having the two good characters--Cordelia and Edgar--fall in love at the end!

It's worth noting that for about a century and a half after the English Restoration, Shakespeare's plays--in their 16th and 17th century versions--were not seen publicly on stage. This came about for a variety of reasons, one being that they didn't fit the sensibilities of the people at the time. So playwrights of the time wrote more acceptable versions! Tate was one of those playwrights.
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Everyman
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?



cheryl_shell wrote:
As you may know, the Nahum Tate version of King Lear (written in the late 17th century) changes the tragic ending completely, even having the two good characters--Cordelia and Edgar--fall in love at the end!

It's worth noting that for about a century and a half after the English Restoration, Shakespeare's plays--in their 16th and 17th century versions--were not seen publicly on stage. This came about for a variety of reasons, one being that they didn't fit the sensibilities of the people at the time. So playwrights of the time wrote more acceptable versions! Tate was one of those playwrights.


I have no problem with that at all. Tate wrote those versions under his own name. They were his plays.
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/tatelear.html
His Lear was based, to be sure, on Shakespeare, but that's fair because Shakespeare based his play on earlier versions of the story. And Shakespeare changed those versions, almost all of which ended happily for Lear and Cordelia, when he put his own name and stamp on the story. So Tate was perfectly entitled to rewrite the Lear story again, under his own name and with his own changes. (In fact, he was returning to the original concept that Shakespeare rejected.) Why should I be the least bit unhappy about that?

Writing plays based on earlier plays or works wasn't new in Shakespeare's day, and it isn't new in ours. Bernstein, as I said in another post, based West Side Story on Romeo and Juliet. And I like WSS. It's a creative work presented under Bernstein's own name. Anouilh rewrote Antigone, but he put his own name on it, he didn't try to pass it off as Sophocles's work. Again, that's great.

There are thirty eight great story lines in the Collected Shakespeare, almost all of which Shakespeare took from other places. Anybody who wants to is free, as far as I'm concerned, to take these story lines, write their own plays based on them using whatever modern events or contrivances they want (Hamlet with a cell phone? stick it into your own play if it fits), and sell and produce them as their own work.

That's what Tate did, and I have no problem at all with it.

But, Cheryl, I rather doubt that you would much appreciate it if I took one of the articles you have written, interpreted it the way I thought it should be interpreted, and republished it under your name and passing it off as being your work. (Even though you wouldn't know about it, I doubt you would say now that you think it would still be okay to do even after you were dead. I suspect that you would want your work to remain your work uncorrupted by my or anybody else's interpretative rewritings of them.)

If you don't want me doing that to your creative efforts, why do you think it's okay to do it to somebody else's?
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Everyman
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?

I haven't seen the movie 300 yet (and probably never will), but I guess some people here are disappointed that the director didn't make it more up to date and express his creativity by giving the Persians Abrahams M-1 tanks and providing the Spartans with air cover from stealth fighters.

In the remake of Lord of the Rings, the trip will be made much easier by providing the team with GPS receivers and laptops connected wirelessly to Google Maps so they know where they are all the time. No more of this wandering around lost in the mountains.

And next movie of Alice in Wonderland will have her well equipped with cell phone to call her parents and explain where she is. And while she's waiting to be picked up in their hummer, she'll listen to Bon Jovi on her ipod.

And certainly it's too bad that Braveheart had to settle for claymores and wasn't provided with a few Apache attack helicopters.

Isn't it surprising that it seems it's only Shakespeare that people feel they need to make these "improvements" in?
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Choisya
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?

You have a brilliant imagination Everyman - it is a pity you aren't a playwright!




Everyman wrote:
I haven't seen the movie 300 yet (and probably never will), but I guess some people here are disappointed that the director didn't make it more up to date and express his creativity by giving the Persians Abrahams M-1 tanks and providing the Spartans with air cover from stealth fighters.

In the remake of Lord of the Rings, the trip will be made much easier by providing the team with GPS receivers and laptops connected wirelessly to Google Maps so they know where they are all the time. No more of this wandering around lost in the mountains.

And next movie of Alice in Wonderland will have her well equipped with cell phone to call her parents and explain where she is. And while she's waiting to be picked up in their hummer, she'll listen to Bon Jovi on her ipod.

And certainly it's too bad that Braveheart had to settle for claymores and wasn't provided with a few Apache attack helicopters.

Isn't it surprising that it seems it's only Shakespeare that people feel they need to make these "improvements" in?


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Everyman
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Re: Lady Macbeth: the Fourth Witch?



Choisya wrote:
You have a brilliant imagination Everyman - it is a pity you aren't a playwright!

Oh no. Being a playwright is too much work. I would use my imagination as a director.

My first movie would be Jane Eyre. But of course, we need to update it to make it relevant to modern audiences.

Since our children have to learn that childhood violence is no longer acceptable, both Jane and John would be reported to Child Protective Services because of their fight. Since Mrs. Reed disavows Jane, she is sent not to a boarding school, but to reform school, where she is, of course, not treated badly but is rather fed plenty of nourishing food, has her own room woth TV and stereo, and is given counseling and treatment for anger management. When she is ready to leave the school, she goes onto the internet, looks on Craig's List, and easily finds a job as the nanny to the daughter of a man living in a brownstone mansion on the Upper East Side of New York City. These days, true isolation from society is to be found not in the country, where because of day trippers, cars, et. al, there is no privacy to be found, but in the big cities where psychological isolation is most profound. If Bronte were alive today, she would of course recognize this and set Thornfield in New York, so we will do that also to be true to her creative intention.

The woman in the attic isn't, of course, crazy; if she were she would be receiving good treatment at an excellent medical facility. She just suffers from bouts of ADHD.

There are many other ways we can modernize Jane Eyre to make it relevant to today's audiences, changes I'm sure Bronte herself would gratefully support were she alive today. Those young people who have heard about this classic book Jane Eyre but haven't have the time or patience to actually read it will finally get the chance to experience it. They may not get the precise flavor that reading the original would have given them, but of course it will be much more interesting and relevant to their lives than the actual book itself ever was.

And adults like us here who have read the book but who also believe that works of art should be living, breathing entities will be delighted at this breath of fresh air brought to modernize and reinterpret Bronte's work.

Next, I would turn to Lady Chatterley's Lover, but of course would have to clean up all the bad language. And since the coal pits are no longer the depressing area they once were, we need to find a new depressing area in which to set the story. Darful will do quite well for that, and we can even slip in a few Hollywood stars coming to look for babies to adopt in order to spice things up and draw in the crowds to the theater to see this creative version of the Lawrence's work.
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Choisya
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Re: Fair is foul and foul is fair - the Gunpowder Plot.

Laurel: How do you read 'fair is foul and foul is fair? I see it as a paradox, where one thing seems like another (the characters of the play), or about how things will change through the story (again the characters), It has also been described as a reference to the Gunpowder plot and the Jesuits 'mimicing the ease with which they equivocated between truth and falsehood, good and evil.' If fair is foul and foul is fair, the deaths of King James and his entire Parliament would have seemed 'fair' to the catholic conspirators but 'foul' to the English nation. There are many references to the GunpowderPlot in the play - vault, mine, blow, fuse, powder, confusion etc. The Jesuit conspirators were deemed 'Equivocators' because of the duplicitous use of language which they employed to cover up the plot and this phrase is perhaps a reference to that.



Laurel wrote:
I think they are all agreeing with the witches in 1.1: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." I don't like their philosophy at all.

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Re: Fair is foul and foul is fair - the Gunpowder Plot.

I've always read that line as a warning: Looks can be decieving. The line would also work well as a warning to King Lear.



Choisya wrote:
Laurel: How do you read 'fair is foul and foul is fair? I see it as a paradox, where one thing seems like another (the characters of the play), or about how things will change through the story (again the characters), It has also been described as a reference to the Gunpowder plot and the Jesuits 'mimicing the ease with which they equivocated between truth and falsehood, good and evil.' If fair is foul and foul is fair, the deaths of King James and his entire Parliament would have seemed 'fair' to the catholic conspirators but 'foul' to the English nation. There are many references to the GunpowderPlot in the play - vault, mine, blow, fuse, powder, confusion etc. The Jesuit conspirators were deemed 'Equivocators' because of the duplicitous use of language which they employed to cover up the plot and this phrase is perhaps a reference to that.



Laurel wrote:
I think they are all agreeing with the witches in 1.1: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." I don't like their philosophy at all.




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Laurel
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Re: Fair is foul and foul is fair - the Gunpowder Plot.

I'd never heard the Gunpowder Plot connection to the play before. I just read the witches as trying to overthrow moral norms--make fair seem foul and foul seem fair.



Choisya wrote:
Laurel: How do you read 'fair is foul and foul is fair? I see it as a paradox, where one thing seems like another (the characters of the play), or about how things will change through the story (again the characters), It has also been described as a reference to the Gunpowder plot and the Jesuits 'mimicing the ease with which they equivocated between truth and falsehood, good and evil.' If fair is foul and foul is fair, the deaths of King James and his entire Parliament would have seemed 'fair' to the catholic conspirators but 'foul' to the English nation. There are many references to the GunpowderPlot in the play - vault, mine, blow, fuse, powder, confusion etc. The Jesuit conspirators were deemed 'Equivocators' because of the duplicitous use of language which they employed to cover up the plot and this phrase is perhaps a reference to that.



Laurel wrote:
I think they are all agreeing with the witches in 1.1: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." I don't like their philosophy at all.




"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Choisya
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Re: Fair is foul and foul is fair - the Gunpowder Plot.

[ Edited ]
Perhaps it is better known in the UK Laurel. The Gunpowder plot was a very terrifying thing for the Elizabethans - a bit like terrorist plots are for us today. There is also a supposed connection with Shakespeare's family - I saw a documenrtary about this last year around November 5. And there is also a reference to it in Paradise Lost too.):-

http://www.gunpowder-plot.org/news/1998_04/macbeth.htm

http://shakespeare.about.com/od/shakespearesbiograph1/a/gunpowderplot.htm

http://www.stjohns-chs.org/english/PAPERTOPICS/brooner.html

http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2005/0846.html

http://phoenixandturtle.net/excerptmill/antinomian.html




Laurel wrote:
I'd never heard the Gunpowder Plot connection to the play before. I just read the witches as trying to overthrow moral norms--make fair seem foul and foul seem fair.



Choisya wrote:
Laurel: How do you read 'fair is foul and foul is fair? I see it as a paradox, where one thing seems like another (the characters of the play), or about how things will change through the story (again the characters), It has also been described as a reference to the Gunpowder plot and the Jesuits 'mimicing the ease with which they equivocated between truth and falsehood, good and evil.' If fair is foul and foul is fair, the deaths of King James and his entire Parliament would have seemed 'fair' to the catholic conspirators but 'foul' to the English nation. There are many references to the GunpowderPlot in the play - vault, mine, blow, fuse, powder, confusion etc. The Jesuit conspirators were deemed 'Equivocators' because of the duplicitous use of language which they employed to cover up the plot and this phrase is perhaps a reference to that.



Laurel wrote:
I think they are all agreeing with the witches in 1.1: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." I don't like their philosophy at all.






Message Edited by Choisya on 03-19-200708:36 PM

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-19-200708:39 PM

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