Friday 6 January 2012

Macbeth - William Shakespeare

Macbeth and his friend Banquo return form a victorious battle where they come across three witches. The witches predict that Macbeth will first become Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland. They also predict that Banquo will be the father of future Kings of Scotland. Both decide to laugh it off until a messenger arrives informing Macbeth that the King has made him Thane of Cawdor. This gets Macbeth to thinking and when her returns he tells his good wife Lady Macbeth all that has occurred. Not willing to wait she encourages Macbeth to murder the King. Having done so Macbeth still isn't happy. He wants his descendants to benefit too and so kills Banquo. The ghost of Banquo then haunts him and his men begin to believe he is going mad. Soon they discover the truth and with the help of the son of the previous King they stand against Macbeth. Macbeth believes he is invincible however, as the witches have since told him that no man born of a woman will kill him.

Out of all the books I was planning to read for this challenge this was the one I was most looking forward to. I actually started reading it a few weeks before Christmas whilst in a book shop. I had to force myself to put it down. It's really that good. I read somewhere that it's very similar to Antony and Cleopatra. I honestly didn't know that when I planned my reading order. Having said that I can see the similarities. Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth are said to be very similar. Sure, I doubt that Lady Macbeth is the beauty that Cleopatra was meant to be but thanks to both the men in their lives ended up at odds with their fellow men. Like Cleopatra too I loved the character Lady Macbeth. If it wasn't for her there probably wouldn't have been a play as Macbeth lacked the courage to carry out the murder without her. Of course after the first one he was able to do the others no problem.

The best speech was probably when Macbeth was murdering his King. However, my favourite scene is the witches. Their scenes were the ones I was looking forward to the most. I bet their lines are among the most famous. I know I've came across several of them in other books/films/television. The one that was brought to mind though was Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters (one of my favourites by this author). I am definitely going to have to read that again at some point this year. Another favourite scene was Lady Macbeth sleepwalking and trying to wash the blood from her hands.

Despite the fact that it was a play there was definitely atmosphere there. I imagine that it could be quite creepy to see it performed. I could picture lots of dark settings (obviously not only including the witch scenes). This play was everything I expected it to be and more. It's definitely at the top of my list of performances I want to see. If you haven't read this I highly recommend that you do.

Shakespeare Month challenge by A Literary Odyssey. More links here.


  1. Lady Macbeth is SO awesome. Like, if I was an actress, I'm pretty sure she's the character I'd most like to play. Also, you're doing so well with all the Shakespeare-ing! I'm too lazy to read many...

  2. Lady Macbeth is indeed awesome. A fantastic female role. I think she would be fantastic to play too. I got so little reading done in December that I am making up for it now that I have some time off. Have done little else if I am honest. I promise it will slow down when I go back.

  3. Ooh, my favourite play by Shakespeare (the one that I'm forever quoting and hoping someone will recognise). Unlike most people, I love Macbeth and actually sympathise with him. Favoutire quote to use is "I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, returning were are tedious as go over." Strangely enough it fits remarkably well into my life...

    I've seen this on stage twice - once in English and once in Swedish - and loved them both. I don't like Shakespeare in Swedish because so much is lost in translation, but the setting and actors were so brilliant I was in utter awe (much better than the English one I saw). If you get a chance, imho, this is the one Shakespeare to see (granted of course that the actors and production is good).

  4. I felt a bit sorry for him too. If it wasn't for all these women in his life (including the witches) he might have happily continued on in life. Bit of a wimp but unlike Antony he didn't run away from his fights. Have to respect him for that.

    I really want to see this done. Oddly I was out with my parents last night and they were talking about the Shakespeare plays they have seen. Macbeth is one of my mums favourites although she has never read the play herself. Her least favourite performance though was one that was set in the future and all the characters were wearing space suits. Sounds a bit odd but I think I would have liked to have seen this too.

  5. I have seen a pretty close adaption of Macbeth performed and it was powerful. If you like world cinema I'd highly recommend Akira Kurosawa's adaptation of Macbeth called Throne of Blood. Its very Japanese in its storytelling but still very effective.

  6. I love most things Japanese. Will have to look out for that. Thank you.