Macbeth- Tragedy on Usurpation

Setting ScotlandWritten for King James in 1604 because he believed he was related to Banquo and he also liked witchesShakespeare’s shortest tradedy
Tragic Flaws Macbeth impatientgreedy, covetambitionjealousyhe’s called a tyrant 19 times exercises cruelty, takes whats not theirs USERPER
Big Questions to Consider Fate vs Free WillHow is Macbeth pressured to kill Duncan?FATE1) Existence of witches walking around they come on stage first theyre more important they know his name2) Culture of violence/rebellion (State of Scotland at the Moment) Macbeth is a combat veteran He gets rewarded for his goriness and violence3)Witches confront Macbeth they tell him prophecy4)Lady Macbeth tough minded, selfish, power hungry, controlling, cold, ambitious, cruel, no moral code, masculine, “unsex me here”, prays to dark angels of satan, wants to be dehumanizedFREE WILL – Ultimately, he has free will and he chooses to kill Duncan anyway so we cant feel bad for himcatharsis- pain/pity for the main characterWhen does Lady Macbeth disappear? What happens to her? Is she as guilty as her husband, or not?How is macbeth representatively human?If character is fate, what is character? Where does it originate?
Characters MacbethLady Macbeth
Macbeth to Lady Macbeth “Oh, full of scorpions is my mind dear wife! Thou know’st that Banquo and his Fleance lives.”Macbeth knows he’s messed up in the head. He feels guilt, horror, despair. Unforgivable things
Lady Macbeth to Doctor and A Gentlewoman “Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One-two- why then tis time to do it. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, a afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”Lady Mac sleep walking basically telling the truth without actually saying her husbands name.And at this point everyone knows it was MacbethWhy not confess? 1- Maybe she wants to protect her husband. 2- Maybe she’s scared
The doctor to the gentlewoman and Lady Macbeth “This disease is beyond my practice. Yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in their beds.”Doctor saying she is uncurable”Infected minds to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than the physician. God, God forgive us all! Look after her..”Doctor saying she needs Gods help
Macbeth to Seyton “She should have died hereafter. There would have been time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. 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.”He’s saying she could’ve/ should’ve died later. Then he generalizes about death saying life is a march towards death and we are fools for it.Shakespeare uses the theater as a metaphor
Shakespeare uses theater as a metaphor 1- Is there a god that see’s you suffer? Why does he let it happen?2-Is he going to bring you justice?3-There there a god?
Nihilistic Statement Life means nothing. No one is watching me suffer or endure pain.Nihilism is when theres no meaning to anything in something.
Tragedy Plays -pain suffering-death-title character usually dies(all existentialist meaning they determine this with their own choices and free will)-sometimes innocent people die in the process-is there justice? does god exist is the government/ state corrupt does anyone learn anything-usually the title character has a downfall and that makes for better theater (thats the tragic flaw and leads to hamartia which is a mistake)
** Macduff to Malcolm “Did heaven look on and would not take their part?”When he finds out his wife and kids are dead. He thinks atheism, common theme recurring in shakespeare writing. Is god there?
Ending Scene Macbeth: I will not fight with theeMacduff: says to yield and “Here you may see the tyrant” Macbeth: says he’s going to fight til the endMacbeth past the point of no return and he comes to terms with the whole situation.
Last Dialogue of MacbethRoss&Siward&Malcolm Language is saturated in manliness and violence because its repeating what the beginning of the play was likeSiward “Why, then God’s soldier be he! Had I as many sons as I have hairs I would not wish them to a fairer death. And so, his knell is knolled.Basically, he believes he had a fair death dying fighting and killing for power he wanted all his songs to die that way & he brings up god with itThe bad guy is dead but the reader is left with all these real world issues. Death good when you die fighting for a cause? or is it pointless bc your not here to enjoy anything
Macbeth in soliloquy “If it were done when ’tis done(MURDER OF DUNCAN), then ’twere wellIt were done quickly. If the assassinationCould trammel up the consequence (IF THERE WERE NO CONSEQUENCES HE WOULD DO IT), and catchWith his surcease success; that but this blowMight be the be-all and the end-all here,But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,We’d jump the life to come. But in these casesWe still have judgment here, that we but teachBloody instructions, which, being taught, returnTo plague th’ inventor: this even-handed justiceCommends the ingredients of our poisoned chaliceTo our own lips. He’s here in double trust:First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,Who should against his murderer shut the door,Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this DuncanHath borne his faculties so meek, hath beenSo clear in his great office, that his virtuesWill plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, againstThe deep damnation of his taking-off;And pity, like a naked newborn babe,Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubim, horsedUpon the sightless couriers of the air,Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spurTo prick the sides of my intent, but onlyVaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itselfAnd falls on th’ other.”Kinds of Murder1) Pre-Meditated- thought about first, you have more intent (this kind is worse)2) Manslaughter-killing in heat of the momentWe can’t see him as a victim because he ultimately kills anyway. He talks himself into it even though he has lists out the reasons why not to. Fate vs free will
Witches to themselves “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”Paradox that foreshadows the deception of MacbethBasically saying things or ppl may seem good but ultimately theyre bad
Macbeth to himself “The be-all and the end-all here.”If there were no consequences to murdering duncan he would have no problem doing it
Macbeth to Lady Macbeth “Blood will have blood.”Meaning that the victim will seek out the murderer and the murder will always be brought to light
Witches to themselves “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”
Lady Macbeth to Doctor and Gentlewoman “What’s done cannot be undone.”In her sleepwalk talking about the murder of Duncan
Macbeth transgresses in all registers: Divine (irreligious, unspeakable to kill God’s king)Political (disrupts lawful policies of succession)Natural (Duncan’s murder is a ‘breach’ in nature)
If prophecy inspires Duncan’s murder, it matters that witches are also considered Unnatural IrreligiousPolitically subversive
1) Is rebellion a systemic problem? Do bad kings produce rebels? How might sovereignty itself lead to an unending cycle of usurpation?2) Do the witches seduce Macbeth toward villainy without regret?3) Does Lady Macbeth push Macbeth to be his very worst? 1.5.38 1) Yes it’s systemic because one person gives power to another and the cycle continues of power hungry people.2) Yes because they’re unholy evil beings who have no remorse for him and want him to head in the wrong direction.3) Yes because she uses her position as his wife to persuade him and guilt him into it.
1) At any given point tragic action can STOP. How so? Tragic hero must always have choices, as do we. He can speak up, trust others, believe the right people.At the same time, tragic action is destiny; it can never stop.Tragedy as an art form tries to make sense of this paradox. For even though we are radically free, there are moments we feel pulled toward tragedy. Free will vs Fate

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