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cheryl_shell
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Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business

The second act's centerpiece is the murder of Duncan, a murder we don't see on stage. Yet it is described so well it's as if we had seen it.

What we do see is the murderous couple before and after the event.

In scene one, we see Macbeth talking with Banquo. When Banquo says "I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters," (2.1.20), Macbeth--incredibly--says, "I think not of them" (21). But doubtless he's been thinking of nothing else!

Macbeth moves from this lie to a soliloquy famous for the line: "Is this a dagger which I see before me / The handle toward my hand?" (33). He seems to be having visions, or perhaps hallucinations, "proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain" (39) that are urging him forward. At the end of this speech, he is, apparently, ready to commit murder: "I go, and it is done" (62). Yet is he? Maybe not.

In the next scene, when Macbeth comes back from doing the deed, he seems less sure. What has changed, do you think? How should we view these two, now that their plans have become deeds?

Following this is a lighter segment, with the drunken porter doing a witty take on equivocators and others who are bound for hell. While this scene could be comic interlude, it is also a dark reflection on the act that has just taken place, and which will be discovered shortly by Macduff, who is the one knocking on the door.

The next time we see Macbeth, he seems in complete control. His passionate response to Duncan's bloody corpse is now completely faked, icily efficient, and designed to conceal the truth of his guilt. He's now committed three murders.

Everything begins to fall into place for Macbeth, just as the wierd sisters predicted. He makes it look like the sons have paid to have their father killed, that they have fled in guilt, and now he is free to take the throne.

Question: Is this act a turning point for Macbeth? Have we seen the last of the "brainsickly" Macbeth?
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KristyR
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business

Macbeth seeing the dagger(2.1.33) and hearing the voice crying "Sleep no more! Macbeth does murther sleep"(2.2.32) does not bode well for Macbeth's future mental health!

I was also reminded of how telling one lie has a tendency to snowball into many, as you try to cover up the first one. Macbeth murdered the King, then had to murder his grooms. By blaming the King's grooms for the murder, this implicated the King's sons as having paid to have the King murdered, so they have fled. How many more people will die or have their lives disrupted by the King's murder?

What havoc an idea can wreak! Did the weird sisters have any idea of the events they were setting in motion by speaking to Macbeth? Did they want him to kill the King for some reason?

This Act left me with a lot more questions than answers!
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mef6395
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business

Macbeth is a warrior and has undoubtedly slain numerous men in battle but he is no natural-born killer. First, he hesitates about going ahead with murdering Duncan, then after he does do it, he starts hearing voices, forgets to plant the evidence, and is convinced that he'll never be able to wash Duncan's blood off his hands. He simply breaks down. From this point onward, it seems pretty evident that things could only get worse for him. He should have stayed out of this bloody business. Too bad, his ambition got the better of his reason and intelligence.
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Choisya
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business : Madness or Conscience?

[ Edited ]
Cheryl wrote:
He seems to be having visions, or perhaps hallucinations, "proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain" (39)

The next time we see Macbeth, he seems in complete control. His passionate response to Duncan's bloody corpse is now completely faked, icily efficient, and designed to conceal the truth of his guilt.



I would like to query the idea put forward elsewhere that Macbeth becomes insane during the play. Seeing 'visions' is not evidence of insanity - there are thousands who claim to have seen ghosts, visions of Christ, Mary etc. and others have witnessed poltergeist activity where objects appear or are thrown about a room. We do not call the people who report these things 'insane' or say they are 'hallucinating'.

The only reference to 'insane' is in Act I Scene II where Banquo asks 'have we eaten on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner?' which infers they have both seen something strange, not that both have gone mad. 'Hurt minds' are mentioned in Act II:ii where sleep is said to 'knit up the ravell'd sleeves of care'. Hurt minds which can be unravelled by sleep are not insane minds. When Lady Macbeth warns him not to be 'brainsickly' (Act II:ii) she is not saying he IS mad but that he is thinking like a madman and should, as we might say, 'pull himself together', wash his hands etc.

In the dagger scene Macbeth asks 'Art thou but a dagger of the mind' or a 'fatal vision', which to me indicates that he is querying what he sees and that does not indicate an hallucination in which he is immersed. In any case, as Cheryl has indicated, hallucinations are temporary things and those who have them quickly regain their composure. Visionaries, saints etc. are said to have them frequently but we do not say this is madness.

I think that what Macbeth gets, and what Shakespeare was illustrating, was a severe attack of conscience, not madness. Elizabethans sincerely believed in conscience and the theme occurs frequently in Shakespeare's plays. 'Conscience' is mentioned 24 times in Henry VIII, Hamlet says 'Conscience does make cowards of us all' and Richard III says 'My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, and every tongue brings in a several tale, and every tale condemns me for a villain.'

Clearly Macbeth's conscience was telling him that he was contemplating something evil and, later, that he had done something evil. In the audience there would be an anticipation of God's vengeance for this his crimes against his conscience but that vengeance would not necessarily mean a man would go mad. Indeed, we could argue that to be sane and know that you have done something very evil and would be damned is worse than being so mad as not to be cognisant of your destiny. Macbeth's punishment was not insanity, it was God's inevitable vengeance and the knowledge that 'murder will out' which was something firmly believed in Elizabethan times. Deuteronomy 32:35 'To me belongeth vengeance; their foot shall slide in due time.' Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales expressed this long held belief thus:

'God, that is so just and resonable
That he ne wol nat suffre it heled be,
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or three
Mordre will out, this is my conclusion'

At the point in the play which Cheryl alludes to, the audience would be anticipating some form of vengeance for Macbeth. A bad conscience incurring visions, dreams and ghosts would all point to this but would not necessarily point to madness.

http://www.teachnet.ie/boregan/Shakespeare/conscience.html

Is this act a turning point for Macbeth? Have we seen the last of the "brainsickly" Macbeth?.

No. God's vengeance, or a trial to administer the King's justice, still had to be seen before the audience went home (the King having been appointed by God).





cheryl_shell wrote:
The second act's centerpiece is the murder of Duncan, a murder we don't see on stage. Yet it is described so well it's as if we had seen it.

What we do see is the murderous couple before and after the event.

In scene one, we see Macbeth talking with Banquo. When Banquo says "I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters," (2.1.20), Macbeth--incredibly--says, "I think not of them" (21). But doubtless he's been thinking of nothing else!

Macbeth moves from this lie to a soliloquy famous for the line: "Is this a dagger which I see before me / The handle toward my hand?" (33). He seems to be having visions, or perhaps hallucinations, "proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain" (39) that are urging him forward. At the end of this speech, he is, apparently, ready to commit murder: "I go, and it is done" (62). Yet is he? Maybe not.

In the next scene, when Macbeth comes back from doing the deed, he seems less sure. What has changed, do you think? How should we view these two, now that their plans have become deeds?

Following this is a lighter segment, with the drunken porter doing a witty take on equivocators and others who are bound for hell. While this scene could be comic interlude, it is also a dark reflection on the act that has just taken place, and which will be discovered shortly by Macduff, who is the one knocking on the door.

The next time we see Macbeth, he seems in complete control. His passionate response to Duncan's bloody corpse is now completely faked, icily efficient, and designed to conceal the truth of his guilt. He's now committed three murders.

Everything begins to fall into place for Macbeth, just as the wierd sisters predicted. He makes it look like the sons have paid to have their father killed, that they have fled in guilt, and now he is free to take the throne.

Question: Is this act a turning point for Macbeth? Have we seen the last of the "brainsickly" Macbeth?

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-15-200708:10 AM

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-15-200708:35 AM

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Everyman
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business

This is an interesting comment in view of the fact that Shakespeare does not, in fact, reflect the person Macbeth's character accurately. In fact he did not kill Duncan in his sleep, but if he killed him at all it was on the field of battle. So yes, the real Macbeth was a warrior who, as far as we know, was not, as you say, outside of that a natural born killer.

You don't say whether you are concerned about the apparent incongruity of these two apparently conflicting sides of Macbeth's character, but for me it is one of the unresolved inadequacies of the play that Shakespeare, without IMO really justifying it, turns almost overnight an honorable, valiant, loyal servant of the King into a cold blooded murderer who would stab a sleeping man. Can ambition really work such an almost overnight character change in a man? Is Shakespeare true to human nature here?


mef6395 wrote:
Macbeth is a warrior and has undoubtedly slain numerous men in battle but he is no natural-born killer. First, he hesitates about going ahead with murdering Duncan, then after he does do it, he starts hearing voices, forgets to plant the evidence, and is convinced that he'll never be able to wash Duncan's blood off his hands. He simply breaks down. From this point onward, it seems pretty evident that things could only get worse for him. He should have stayed out of this bloody business. Too bad, his ambition got the better of his reason and intelligence.


_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business : Madness or Conscience?

Interesting & great!



Choisya wrote:

I would like to query the idea put forward elsewhere that Macbeth becomes insane during the play. Seeing 'visions' is not evidence of insanity - there are thousands who claim to have seen ghosts, visions of Christ, Mary etc. and others have witnessed poltergeist activity where objects appear or are thrown about a room. We do not call the people who report these things 'insane' or say they are 'hallucinating'.

The only reference to 'insane' is in Act I Scene II where Banquo asks 'have we eaten on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner?' which infers they have both seen something strange, not that both have gone mad. 'Hurt minds' are mentioned in Act II:ii where sleep is said to 'knit up the ravell'd sleeves of care'. Hurt minds which can be unravelled by sleep are not insane minds. When Lady Macbeth warns him not to be 'brainsickly' (Act II:ii) she is not saying he IS mad but that he is thinking like a madman and should, as we might say, 'pull himself together', wash his hands etc.

In the dagger scene Macbeth asks 'Art thou but a dagger of the mind' or a 'fatal vision', which to me indicates that he is querying what he sees and that does not indicate an hallucination in which he is immersed. In any case, as Cheryl has indicated, hallucinations are temporary things and those who have them quickly regain their composure. Visionaries, saints etc. are said to have them frequently but we do not say this is madness.

I think that what Macbeth gets, and what Shakespeare was illustrating, was a severe attack of conscience, not madness. Elizabethans sincerely believed in conscience and the theme occurs frequently in Shakespeare's plays. 'Conscience' is mentioned 24 times in Henry VIII, Hamlet says 'Conscience does make cowards of us all' and Richard III says 'My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, and every tongue brings in a several tale, and every tale condemns me for a villain.'

Clearly Macbeth's conscience was telling him that he was contemplating something evil and, later, that he had done something evil. In the audience there would be an anticipation of God's vengeance for this his crimes against his conscience but that vengeance would not necessarily mean a man would go mad. Indeed, we could argue that to be sane and know that you have done something very evil and would be damned is worse than being so mad as not to be cognisant of your destiny. Macbeth's punishment was not insanity, it was God's inevitable vengeance and the knowledge that 'murder will out' which was something firmly believed in Elizabethan times. Deuteronomy 32:35 'To me belongeth vengeance; their foot shall slide in due time.' Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales expressed this long held belief thus:

'God, that is so just and resonable
That he ne wol nat suffre it heled be,
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or three
Mordre will out, this is my conclusion'

At the point in the play which Cheryl alludes to, the audience would be anticipating some form of vengeance for Macbeth. A bad conscience incurring visions, dreams and ghosts would all point to this but would not necessarily point to madness.

http://www.teachnet.ie/boregan/Shakespeare/conscience.html

Is this act a turning point for Macbeth? Have we seen the last of the "brainsickly" Macbeth?.

No. God's vengeance, or a trial to administer the King's justice, still had to be seen before the audience went home (the King having been appointed by God).




Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Choisya
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business : Ambition

I find your comments interesting too Everyman parrticularly as you mention ambition, the true theme of the play, not regicide.

I think we have to remember that Shakespeare supposedly wrote this play for a King (James I) whose life had been under threat since birth and who had recently narrowly missed being killed by the Gunpowder Plot. These many attempts on his life were due to the ambition of people who wish to overthrow his throne or to kill him. The overthrow or killing of a king were all heinous crimes not only in the eyes of the King but in the eyes of most of his subjects. Kings were God ordained and only God should be able to unseat them.

In choosing Macbeth as the person to write about I think Shakespeare deliberately chose someone he could associate with Banquo, an ancestor of the king. And then he chose to write a WHAT IF series of events around the theme of ambition. If, as an Elizabethan, you believed that the ambition to overthrow or kill a king was the most heinous of crimes, a play written around those ideas, to be performed before a King so recently involved with them, made sense. Even if the play wasn't performed in front of the King, it was a very topical subject for the audience living under a newly crowned king who had been under threat.

You ask Can ambition really work such an almost overnight character change in a man? Is Shakespeare true to human nature here? I think Shakespeare's intent was to say that ambition was an extremely dangerous thing because it could lead to killing a king. Not just any old ambition, just the ambition to kill a king. And such an ambition, he infers, can overcome your reason and conscience. In real life we have indeed see ambition lead to many evil things, especially when it comes to killing kings or ruling countries. Napoleon was ambitious, Hitler was ambitious, Stalin was ambitious. However, they weren't born ambitious - they all had quite humble beginnings - something changed them. Perhaps not 'overnight' but as far as we know they did not meet 'weird sisters' who foretold their future. Shakespeare asks us to believe that strange events can change us drastically and I think that is true. So the answer to your question Is Shakespeare true to human nature here? is IMO 'Yes'.

The real Macbeth, we think, killed a king in a battle but he still killed a king, which was against the Elizabethan 'natural order of things'. It is this, I think, which Shakespeare was extrapolating from in order to make his point about ambition and in order to please his King. The Elizabethans, especially the Scots among them, would know the true story of Macbeth but would, I feel, understand what Shakespeare was trying to say and why. The real Macbeth would not be sullied in their eyes - this was a 'tale' Shakespeare was telling them and they suspended their disbelief. So I am asking you suspend your disbelief Everyman - enter into the spirit of the play and forget the letter meanwhile.:smileyhappy:




Everyman wrote:
This is an interesting comment in view of the fact that Shakespeare does not, in fact, reflect the person Macbeth's character accurately. In fact he did not kill Duncan in his sleep, but if he killed him at all it was on the field of battle. So yes, the real Macbeth was a warrior who, as far as we know, was not, as you say, outside of that a natural born killer.

You don't say whether you are concerned about the apparent incongruity of these two apparently conflicting sides of Macbeth's character, but for me it is one of the unresolved inadequacies of the play that Shakespeare, without IMO really justifying it, turns almost overnight an honorable, valiant, loyal servant of the King into a cold blooded murderer who would stab a sleeping man. Can ambition really work such an almost overnight character change in a man? Is Shakespeare true to human nature here?


mef6395 wrote:
Macbeth is a warrior and has undoubtedly slain numerous men in battle but he is no natural-born killer. First, he hesitates about going ahead with murdering Duncan, then after he does do it, he starts hearing voices, forgets to plant the evidence, and is convinced that he'll never be able to wash Duncan's blood off his hands. He simply breaks down. From this point onward, it seems pretty evident that things could only get worse for him. He should have stayed out of this bloody business. Too bad, his ambition got the better of his reason and intelligence.





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mef6395
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business

[ Edited ]
It did indeed initially bother me that Macbeth turned from loyal subject to cold-blooded murderer almost overnight without apparent justification. But then I came up with the idea that perhaps it is up to the audience/reader to presuppose that Macbeth already had the ambition to become king slowly burning inside of him long before his first meeting with the witches. Maybe it was not an overnight thing at all, maybe the thought had already been incessantly playing in his mind for a long while but he just did not know what to do about it. And then the "right" circumstances came to pass: he was winning battles, Duncan conferred on him another royal title, he met the witches, he had a pushy wife ... perhaps all of those concerted to make him finally decide to do the evil thing that he did.






Everyman wrote:
This is an interesting comment in view of the fact that Shakespeare does not, in fact, reflect the person Macbeth's character accurately. In fact he did not kill Duncan in his sleep, but if he killed him at all it was on the field of battle. So yes, the real Macbeth was a warrior who, as far as we know, was not, as you say, outside of that a natural born killer.

You don't say whether you are concerned about the apparent incongruity of these two apparently conflicting sides of Macbeth's character, but for me it is one of the unresolved inadequacies of the play that Shakespeare, without IMO really justifying it, turns almost overnight an honorable, valiant, loyal servant of the King into a cold blooded murderer who would stab a sleeping man. Can ambition really work such an almost overnight character change in a man? Is Shakespeare true to human nature here?


Message Edited by mef6395 on 03-16-200704:37 AM

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Laurel
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business

This is a very good post, Mef. I agree that Macbeth had a predisposition yield to temptations to take shortcuts to power.



mef6395 wrote:
It did indeed initially bother me that Macbeth turned from loyal subject to cold-blooded murderer almost overnight without apparent justification. But then I came up with the idea that perhaps it is up to the audience/reader to presuppose that Macbeth already had the ambition to become king slowly burning inside of him long before his first meeting with the witches. Maybe it was not an overnight thing at all, maybe the thought had already been incessantly playing in his mind for a long while but he just did not know what to do about it. And then the "right" circumstances came to pass: he was winning battles, Duncan conferred on him another royal title, he met the witches, he had a pushy wife ... perhaps all of those concerted to make him finally decide to do the evil thing that he did.






Everyman wrote:
This is an interesting comment in view of the fact that Shakespeare does not, in fact, reflect the person Macbeth's character accurately. In fact he did not kill Duncan in his sleep, but if he killed him at all it was on the field of battle. So yes, the real Macbeth was a warrior who, as far as we know, was not, as you say, outside of that a natural born killer.

You don't say whether you are concerned about the apparent incongruity of these two apparently conflicting sides of Macbeth's character, but for me it is one of the unresolved inadequacies of the play that Shakespeare, without IMO really justifying it, turns almost overnight an honorable, valiant, loyal servant of the King into a cold blooded murderer who would stab a sleeping man. Can ambition really work such an almost overnight character change in a man? Is Shakespeare true to human nature here?


Message Edited by mef6395 on 03-16-200704:37 AM




"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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cheryl_shell
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What they set in motion


KristyR wrote:
Macbeth seeing the dagger(2.1.33) and hearing the voice crying "Sleep no more! Macbeth does murther sleep"(2.2.32) does not bode well for Macbeth's future mental health!

I was also reminded of how telling one lie has a tendency to snowball into many, as you try to cover up the first one. Macbeth murdered the King, then had to murder his grooms. By blaming the King's grooms for the murder, this implicated the King's sons as having paid to have the King murdered, so they have fled. How many more people will die or have their lives disrupted by the King's murder?

What havoc an idea can wreak! Did the weird sisters have any idea of the events they were setting in motion by speaking to Macbeth? Did they want him to kill the King for some reason?

This Act left me with a lot more questions than answers!




You ask a very intriguing question, Kristy. What were the witches intending to make happen when they spoke to Macbeth? Was their target the king, as you suggest, or was it the downfall of Macbeth they were ultimately after? And if so, why? Pure malevolence? Or were they trying to rid the kingdom of a bad apple?
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Laurel
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Re: What they set in motion



cheryl_shell wrote:

KristyR wrote:
Macbeth seeing the dagger(2.1.33) and hearing the voice crying "Sleep no more! Macbeth does murther sleep"(2.2.32) does not bode well for Macbeth's future mental health!

I was also reminded of how telling one lie has a tendency to snowball into many, as you try to cover up the first one. Macbeth murdered the King, then had to murder his grooms. By blaming the King's grooms for the murder, this implicated the King's sons as having paid to have the King murdered, so they have fled. How many more people will die or have their lives disrupted by the King's murder?

What havoc an idea can wreak! Did the weird sisters have any idea of the events they were setting in motion by speaking to Macbeth? Did they want him to kill the King for some reason?

This Act left me with a lot more questions than answers!




You ask a very intriguing question, Kristy. What were the witches intending to make happen when they spoke to Macbeth? Was their target the king, as you suggest, or was it the downfall of Macbeth they were ultimately after? And if so, why? Pure malevolence? Or were they trying to rid the kingdom of a bad apple?




That was a good post, Kristy, and good questions. Were the witches trying to put the whole kingdom out of whack? I think this play is an old-fashioned story of temptation, sin, guilt, and consequences.
"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: What they set in motion

I think this play is an old-fashioned story of temptation, sin, guilt, and consequences.

I agree Laurel but that is allied to ambition I think. But to get back to the witches - why would witches want to put a kingdom 'out of wack'? Are their prophecies necessarily evil or just prophecies? What they say here may in fact be a charm and not evil at all because they are referring to sailors and the sea. This is thought to refer to the voyage King James' made when he went to fetch his bride from Denmark. There were storms on both journeys which were put down to witchcraft. So this may be a 'good luck' charm for the King's future voyages:

The weird sisters hand in hand
Posters of the sea and land
Thus do go about, about:
Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
And thrice again to make up mine
Peace! the charm's wound up.

Telling fortunes, like reading the Tarot cards, does seem to put ideas into folks' heads doesn't it? Once such prophecies were thought to be true but nowadays psychologists would say that they are 'self-fulfilling', auto suggestion etc. The problem for Macbeth and Banquo is that they lived in an age where people actually believed in prophecy and/or witchcraft so just by seeing 'weird sisters' saying weird things they were predisposed to believe them and 'ay there's the rub', to quote Hamlet and not Macbeth:smileyhappy:.

Kirsty asked 'Did the weird sisters have any idea of the events they were setting in motion by speaking to Macbeth?'. Presumably if they have the gift of prophecy, they know all that is to come. Can prophecies be halted or are the witches, Macbeth, Banquo and perhaps all of us in the hand of Destiny?

This was a question Elizabethans were keen on studying. Queen Elizabeth sought out the astrologer Dr John Dee, a controversial figure whose dark prediction regarding her sister Mary Tudor proved true, and commanded him to elect a favorable date for her coronation. It is said that he gained the confidence of the Queen who sought his counsel on weighty matters, such as the Armada crisis. When James I succeeded her to the throne, Dee's relationship to the crown was severed as James believed him to be in league with the devil. So we can be sure that the Elizabethan audience would be paying attention to these prophecies and it is possible that the witches scene here is the one that is said to have upset King James. Indeed, given King James obsession with witch-craft Shakespeare seems to have ben sailing a bit close to the wind with these scenes! Perhaps playing the traditional court jester, saying things others dare not say?





Laurel wrote:


cheryl_shell wrote:

KristyR wrote:
Macbeth seeing the dagger(2.1.33) and hearing the voice crying "Sleep no more! Macbeth does murther sleep"(2.2.32) does not bode well for Macbeth's future mental health!

I was also reminded of how telling one lie has a tendency to snowball into many, as you try to cover up the first one. Macbeth murdered the King, then had to murder his grooms. By blaming the King's grooms for the murder, this implicated the King's sons as having paid to have the King murdered, so they have fled. How many more people will die or have their lives disrupted by the King's murder?

What havoc an idea can wreak! Did the weird sisters have any idea of the events they were setting in motion by speaking to Macbeth? Did they want him to kill the King for some reason?

This Act left me with a lot more questions than answers!




You ask a very intriguing question, Kristy. What were the witches intending to make happen when they spoke to Macbeth? Was their target the king, as you suggest, or was it the downfall of Macbeth they were ultimately after? And if so, why? Pure malevolence? Or were they trying to rid the kingdom of a bad apple?




That was a good post, Kristy, and good questions. Were the witches trying to put the whole kingdom out of whack? I think this play is an old-fashioned story of temptation, sin, guilt, and consequences.


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mef6395
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business

I would be very much interested to know what the others think could justify the seemingly abrupt shift of Macbeth from valiant and loyal subject to somebody guilty of regicide.






Laurel wrote:
This is a very good post, Mef. I agree that Macbeth had a predisposition yield to temptations to take shortcuts to power.



mef6395 wrote:
It did indeed initially bother me that Macbeth turned from loyal subject to cold-blooded murderer almost overnight without apparent justification. But then I came up with the idea that perhaps it is up to the audience/reader to presuppose that Macbeth already had the ambition to become king slowly burning inside of him long before his first meeting with the witches. Maybe it was not an overnight thing at all, maybe the thought had already been incessantly playing in his mind for a long while but he just did not know what to do about it. And then the "right" circumstances came to pass: he was winning battles, Duncan conferred on him another royal title, he met the witches, he had a pushy wife ... perhaps all of those concerted to make him finally decide to do the evil thing that he did.






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mef6395
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business

Was it usual for Shakespeare to inject humor here and there in his more somber plays such as Macbeth? I find the scene of the Porter (II.iii) - especially his lines about drinking - a bit incongruous.
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Choisya
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business : 'toughtful Laughter'

Yes indeed meg6495 Shakespeare injected humour by the use of fools, jesters, clowns and other characters, into most of his 'sombre' plays. In the Porter's case he offers a bit of 'slapstick' comic relief directly after the murder of Duncan. 'His drunken banter present a raucus parody of Macbeth's inner torment.' (Meredith.) And he caricatures the suspense in the Macbeth household when he knocks on the door and startles Lady Macbeth. The gates to the Macbeth castle are often portrayed as the gates to Hell and the Porter/gatekeeper's speech contains satanic images - he refers to 'Beezlebub', the 'devil' and 'the everlasting bonfire'. This scene emphasises that all who enter the castle and stand in the way of Macbeth's ambition may as well have entered Hell. George Meredith also suggests that the laughter provoked by this scene is 'thoughful laughter' which 'prompts both exaggerated comedy and a deeper understanding of the play's symbolism'.




mef6395 wrote:
Was it usual for Shakespeare to inject humor here and there in his more somber plays such as Macbeth? I find the scene of the Porter (II.iii) - especially his lines about drinking - a bit incongruous.


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Everyman
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business



mef6395 wrote:
Was it usual for Shakespeare to inject humor here and there in his more somber plays such as Macbeth? I find the scene of the Porter (II.iii) - especially his lines about drinking - a bit incongruous.

It was very usual.

Keep in mind the audience Shakespeare was trying to attract into the theater. It wasn't what we generally think of as a Shakespearean audience. Shakespeare wasn't "Shakespeare" then, there were no college courses about him, no learned works of criticism. He was just a playwright trying to make a living.

He had to attract all kinds of people to his plays, including those who would pay minimal entrance fees to stand for three hours it the pit (no intermission in most cases). A bit of humor mixed in with the play made it more appealing and gave a chance for the audience to laugh and loosen up for a few moments.

You'll find humor in most, if not all, of his tragedies.
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Choisya
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Macbeth Act II: This Bloody Business

[ Edited ]
Yes, humour was an integral part of playacting in Shakespeare's day. The famous and foremost professional Elizabethan stage clowns William Kempe and Robert Armin were both connected with Shakespeare's company. It has been believed that play scripts now available have been published to include the ad-libs by the clowns but, in fact, Hamlet's order that clowns could speak only what had been written down for them was apparently a comment that came from Shakespeare's heart on the ad libbing done by Kemp who, by all accounts, tended to play up to the audience.

William Kemp was an important star, mainly because of his partnership in the company and the Globe Theatre. He specialized in playing stupid country type characters that later came to be known as Auguste style. Robert Armin was an expert and specialized at playing court jester type fools. He wrote a book on famous court jesters that ranks among the first ever published histories of clowning. When Armin replaced Kemp, Shakespeare changed his style of script writing to suit the style and abilities of the newcomer, which showed the versatality of his genius.






Everyman wrote:


mef6395 wrote:
Was it usual for Shakespeare to inject humor here and there in his more somber plays such as Macbeth? I find the scene of the Porter (II.iii) - especially his lines about drinking - a bit incongruous.

It was very usual.

Keep in mind the audience Shakespeare was trying to attract into the theater. It wasn't what we generally think of as a Shakespearean audience. Shakespeare wasn't "Shakespeare" then, there were no college courses about him, no learned works of criticism. He was just a playwright trying to make a living.

He had to attract all kinds of people to his plays, including those who would pay minimal entrance fees to stand for three hours it the pit (no intermission in most cases). A bit of humor mixed in with the play made it more appealing and gave a chance for the audience to laugh and loosen up for a few moments.

You'll find humor in most, if not all, of his tragedies.

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-18-200706:58 PM

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