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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: April ::
Q: *Mac.* Anecdotes; Re: Macduff and Macbeth
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0313.  Wednesday, 6 April 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Nick Clary <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Apr 1994 11:17:46 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Macbeth Anecdotes
 
(2)     From:   Michael Calvert <CALVERT@UCONNVM>
        Date:   Monday, 04 Apr 94 17:21:09 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0305  Re: Macduff; Hamlet's Trial
 
(3)     From:   E. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Apr 1994 08:46:28 EDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0305  Re: Macduff; Hamlet's Trial
 
(4)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Apr 1994 16:42 ET
        Subj:   Companionate Courtship; Macduff
 
(5)     From:   Piers Lewis <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Apr 1994 07:19:41 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Cawdor & Macbeth
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Clary <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Apr 1994 11:17:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Macbeth Anecdotes
 
A colleague has asked me to solicit any and all anecdotes relating to weird
occurrences during productions of MACBETH.  Is there a published collection?
Are there any anecdotes that you know which are probably not published?
 
I assured her that you would respond.
 
Thanks,
Nick Clary
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Calvert <CALVERT@UCONNVM>
Date:           Monday, 04 Apr 94 17:21:09 EDT
Subject: 5.0305  Re: Macduff; Hamlet's Trial
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0305  Re: Macduff; Hamlet's Trial
 
Re: Macduff's leaving his family behind when he goes to England: might
not the simplest (as opposed to simplistic) explanation be the best one?
 
Why does Macduff leave him family behind?  He makes a mistake.
 
Anyway, that's the answer I've always given my students, and they seem
satisfied with it.
 
                  Michael Calvert
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           E. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 05 Apr 1994 08:46:28 EDT
Subject: 5.0305  Re: Macduff; Hamlet's Trial
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0305  Re: Macduff; Hamlet's Trial
 
To Bill Godshalk-Macduff may have been relying upon the convention (Mafia
style according to Puzo) that the wives and children of business rivals are
sacrosanct. Of course, Macbeth breaks that convention. ELEpstein
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Apr 1994 16:42 ET
Subject:        Companionate Courtship; Macduff
 
Like Milla Riggio I'm inclined to think that in some sense Shakespeare
"believed" in companionate marriage, though it is a little odd say so about a
man who, like Macduff, left his wife and children for months at a time while
he went off to do his job.  Whatever the other bases of his "belief," it is
surely the case that companionate marriage--both the courtship leading up to
it, with its opportunities for conflict and anxiety, and the married life
itself, with its opportunies for further testing, discovery, reflection,
perhaps even regret--are on the face of it more dramatically interesting than
marriage by patriarchal disposition: what happens to the latter part of <Romeo
and Juliet> if Capulet gets his way?  Shakespeare saw this from the
beginning--Comedy of Errors, Shrew, even, in its way, Lucrece, though he tends
toward the beginning to emphasize the courtship (marry in haste) and toward
the end (Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Cymbeline, Winters Tale--to emphasize
the married life.
 
As to Macduff, I'm not persuaded that his conception of marriage, whatever it
is, comes into it.  The time of his departure for England is not clear; he
denies Macbeth's call to court before the murder of Banquo, for we hear of it
at the end of the banquet scene; he has been gone some time when Lennox and
Ross tell us where he's gone.  To this point Macbeth's bloody assaults have
been confined to powerful male rivals: no murders of women and helpless
children to produce anxiety.  He is in a hurry, so he can't take the family
because they will slow him down.  He is going to raise an army to bring back,
so he couldn't take them anyway because families didn't travel with armies.
It's a risk--but anybody who had read even as much Scottish history as was in
Holinshed knew that life in them parts was always risky.  Where's the huge
fault?  He makes a difficult decision in a hurry.  He and his family pay a
dreadful price for it.  The outcome for the society as a whole is a good one.
Life's got rocks on one side of it and hard places on the other.
 
All this doesn't touch the set of questions arising from the fact that
Shakespearean characters are not people but dramatic images.  Maybe later.
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Piers Lewis <
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Date:           Wednesday, 06 Apr 1994 07:19:41 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Cawdor & Macbeth
 
Naomi Liebler (I think) has suggested that we compare the deaths of Cawdor and
Macbeth.  Does the play, in some odd sense of the word, 'intend' that
comparison?  Jan Kott (_Shakespeare Our Contemporary_) thinks so.  Here is what
he says:
 
"The Thane of Cawdor does not appear in Macbeth.  All we know of him is that he
has been guilty of treason and executed.  Why is his death described so
emphatically and in such detail?  Why did Shakespeare find it necessary?  After
all, his expositions are never wrong.  Cawdor's death, which opens the play, is
necessary.  It will be compared to Macbeth's death.  There is something Senecan
and stoic about Cawdor's cold indifference to death.  Faced with utter defeat
Cawdor saves what can still be saved:  a noble attitude and dignity. For
Macbeth attitudes are of no importance; he does not believe in human dignity
any more.  Macbeth has reached the limits of human experience.  All he has left
is contempt.  The very concept of man has crumbled to pieces, and there is
nothing left.
 
The end of _Macbeth_ like the end of _Troilus and Cressida_, or _King Lear_,
produces no catharsis.  Suicide is either a protest, or an admission of guilt.
Macbeth does not feel guilty, and there is nothing for him to protest about.
All he can do before he dies is to drag with him into nothingness as many
living beings as possible.  This is the last consequence of the world's
absurdity.  Macbeth is still unable to blow the world up.  But he can go on
murdering to the end."
 
        Why should I play the Roman fool and die
        On mine own sword?  Whiles I see lives, the gashes
        Do better on them.
 
Piers Lewis
Metropolitan State University
St. Paul, Mn.
 

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