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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: May ::
Re: The Macbeths
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0374.  Tuesday, 14 May 1996.

(1)     From:   Daniel Lowenstein <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 May 1996 15:56:41 PST
        Subj:   Macbeth indifferent?

(2)     From:   Tunis Romein <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 May 1996 20:54:49 -0400
        Subj:   Macbeth's grief

(3)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 May 1996 08:39:47 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0356  Re: Othello and Macbeth

(4)     From:   Pat Dunlay <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 May 1996 10:15:17 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0366  Re: L. Macbeth


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Daniel Lowenstein <
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Date:           Monday, 13 May 1996 15:56:41 PST
Subject:        Macbeth indifferent?

I agree with Dunlay and Harvey that Macbeth's "Tomorrow" speech expresses
anything but indifference.  Still, it is striking that his eloquence is
general, containing no references to his wife.  And although it may be that
Lady Macbeth's death prompts thoughts of the brevity and meaninglessness of
life, one senses that it is his own life that Macbeth is reflecting on.  I do
not suggest that Macbeth is "indifferent" to his wife's death, but the
abstractness of his reaction to a profoundly personal loss is surely both a
sign and a cause of his bleak situation.

                                Best,
                                Dan Lowenstein
                                UCLA Law School

(2)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tunis Romein <
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Date:           Monday, 13 May 1996 20:54:49 -0400
Subject:        Macbeth's grief

What Macbeth says when he hears of the death of his wife reminds me of Brutus's
response on seeing the dead body of Cassius:

     Friends, I owe more tears
     To this dead man than you shall see me pay.
     I shall find time, Cassius, I shall find time.
     Come, therefore, and to Thasos send his body:
     His funerals shall not be in our camp,
     Lest it discomfort us.  (V, iii)

His grief is profound, but he is too busy, i.e. he doesn't have "time," to
display it openly because he has a battle to fight. The same could be true of
Macbeth:

     She should have died hereafter;
     There would have been a time for such a word. (V, v)

Macbeth is, of course, more hardened by his experiences than Brutus, but not so
hardened as to have lost all feeling for his wife.  Let's not forget that the
most poignant speech in the play occurs after Macbeth asks the doctor about his
wife's welfare.

MACBETH

     How does your patient, doctor?

DOCTOR

     Not so sick, my lord,
     As she is troubled with thick coming fancies,
     That keep her from her rest.

MACBETH

     Cure her of that.
     Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
     Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
     Raze out the written troubles of the brain
     And with some sweet oblivious antidote
     Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
     Which weighs upon the heart? (V, iii)

Tunis Romein
Charleston, SC  USA

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 May 1996 08:39:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0356  Re: Othello and Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0356  Re: Othello and Macbeth

Chris;

Not to be a wiseguy, but of course all the deaths in Macbeth were feigned (the
actors didn't actually die onstage). Sorry.

Today's audiences are so blase about staged events--even real deaths on
newsclips seem staged since they happen onstage--we can't feel the way
Shakespeare's audiences felt about staged events, we can only reconstruct it
for ourselves as best we can intellectually. Denied other forms of
entertainment, no movies, radio, tv, even books, since so few could read, this
would be the only contact many had with artfully "feigned" events/stories,
therefore the impact must have been powerful. The discussion among the rude
mechanicals in MSND about how to play the lion shows the playwright's concern
over making the "show" too intense for a given audience. These people were all,
audience, actors and playwrights, much closer to the theater in its original
function as potent religious ritual, the feigned death of the protagonist
replaced the actual death of the summer king not so far back in time as it is
for us, and the sense of expiation of some brutal natural force must still have
been extremely potent then in a way it no longer is for us.

Stephanie Hughes

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dunlay <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 May 1996 10:15:17 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 7.0366  Re: L. Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0366  Re: L. Macbeth

Chris Stroffolino - one last word on Macbeth and his Lady. I think that her
faint is real because I see her as less of a monster than many readers. I agree
that she is genuinely shocked by the murder of the grooms, but more shocked and
upset by Macbeth's ruthlessness, something she thought he did not have ("Milk
of human kindness" instead). His line "She should have died hereafter"  I heard
Ian McKellan explain it this way.  He meant that he wished her death had come
at a better time, when he would have been able to truly mourn her ("there would
have been a time for such a thing") Now he is so caught up in the battle and in
his own despair that even this great grief cannot be attended to.  I buy this
explanation because it evokes the pity necessary for classic tragedy that
otherwise leaves Macbeth a heartless monster "the butcher" Malcolm calls him at
the end.  Besides, I figure McKellan knows what he's talking about.

Pat Dunlay
 

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