Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Ross and Macduff
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0461  Tuesday, 16 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Richard A Burt <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 15 Mar 1999 12:15:27 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[2]     From:   Douglas Abel <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 15 Mar 1999 08:02:28 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[3]     From:   Heather James <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 15 Mar 1999 09:47:59 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[4]     From:   Richard Bovard <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 15 Mar 1999 12:01:20 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[5]     From:   Catherine Loomis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 15 Mar 1999 12:04:59 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[6]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 15 Mar 1999 11:03:34 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[7]     From:   Ronald Macdonald <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 15 Mar 1999 14:47:54 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[8]     From:   Lucia Anna Setari <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 15 Mar 1999 12:09:38 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[9]     From:   Marilyn Bonomi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 15 Mar 1999 16:17:44 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[10]    From:   KarenPeterson-Kranz <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Mar 199 09:46:43 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[11]    From:   Werner Bronnimann <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Mar 1999 09:23:20 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

[12]    From:   Ed Friedlander <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Mar 1999 06:07:49 CST
        Subj    Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A Burt <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 15 Mar 1999 12:15:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0460 Ross and Macduff
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

See Harry Berger's essay reprinted in his recent book.  Also, check out
Polanski's version , where Ross is the third murder and silently orders
(by a nod)  the opening of the gates of Macduff's castle to the
murderers.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas Abel <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 15 Mar 1999 08:02:28 -0700
Subject: 10.0460 Ross and Macduff
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

I have always thought that the reason Ross "lied" was that he simply did
not know how to break the news, especially because he was there almost
immediately before the murders of Lady Macduff and her children, and did
nothing.  When directly confronted by Macduff, he blurts out a lie which
is the first thing that comes into his head.  When pushed, still unable
to summon up the courage to speak the tragic truth, he prevaricates with
a statement excruciating in its irony, and its double-tongued truth-"No
they were well at peace when I did leave 'em."  A false statement,
because Macduff's wife and children are now dead; a "true" statement,
because they were alive immediately after he left; a "true" statement
again, because Ross' desertion-"leaving" of Macduff's family assured
that they would "rest in peace."

In other words, the "reason" for the "lie"-as is so often the case with
Shakespeare-is an unbelievably penetrating insight into human psychology
and behaviour.  At the same time it's great theatre, drawing out the
ironic suspense almost unbearably.

As to how many children Macduff had, I would have said three
immediately.  But then I realized I would have said that because that
was the number in the production in which I played Ross.  Textually, I
have no idea.  Sorry.

Douglas Abel,
Keyano College.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Heather James <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 15 Mar 1999 09:47:59 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 10.0460 Ross and Macduff
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

>                     In Macbeth, when Ross arrives to inform Macduff
>of the death of his family, he first tells him that his wife and
>children are well. I understand the notion of breaking the news gently,
>but this seems incongruous with both the purpose of Ross' message and
>the intent of Macduff's question. So why does Ross first say they are
>well?

Jack Heller is right that Ross doesn't break the news gently; he seems
on the contrary to build up momentum for the most abrupt, painful
disclosure possible.  But he isn't the scene's first character to raise
the question of Macduff, "Why in that rawness left you wife and child/
(Those precious motives, those strong knots of love)/ Without
leave-taking?"-or, one might add, protection.  Malcolm, the man least
likely to speak to or from the heart (in my view), asks that question.
What's more, Macduff's wife pointedly asked it in the previous scene,
just before the murderers enter.  Shakespeare works on some amazing
shifts and compromises to audience sympathy towards the end of Macbeth,
just one of which comes when he sends Macduff, not Macbeth, onto the
stage directly after the murder of Macduff's family.  If we're looking
for someone to blame, our eyes fall on the unexpected man: the
scapegoating of Macbeth becomes easier for characters within the play
than audiences of it.

Heather James
University of Southern California


[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Bovard <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 15 Mar 1999 12:01:20 -0600
Subject: 10.0460 Ross and Macduff
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

I offer two thoughts about Ross and his news, with some additional
reflection.

First, in a world where fair is foul, where much is contaminated and
perverted, "well" seems appropriate.  And they are certainly (even, in
Christian terms, traditionally?) "well" out of such a world.  Second,
Shakespeare has used this mixed messaging before in "Julius Caesar," in
Act 4, when Brutus receives news of Portia.  Emphasis is placed upon how
"well" Brutus takes the news (i.e., how "well" he bears it-stoically,
man-like, etc.).

Doesn't "Macbeth" have a similar bit of news in the last scene, where
another father (Siward) receives news of another child's death?  Siward
says that his son "parted well," and so he bears the news "well," too, I
suppose.  Note that Malcolm is present in both of these news scenes, and
his response at the end is perhaps less gender bound.  Earlier, he tells
Macduff to bear the news "like a man."  At the end, when Siward bears
such news like a man, Malcolm suggests another response.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Catherine Loomis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 15 Mar 1999 12:04:59 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 10.0460 Ross and Macduff
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

>I have a two questions. In Macbeth, when Ross arrives to inform Macduff
>of the death of his family, he first tells him that his wife and
>children are well. I understand the notion of breaking the news gently,
>but this seems incongruous with both the purpose of Ross' message and
>the intent of Macduff's question. So why does Ross first say they are
>well?

For the same reason the Duke in MM answers Isabella's query about her
brother with "He hath releas'd him, Isabel, from the world..."
(4.3.115), because for a good Christian early modern audience, the dead
were always better off than the living.

>And how many children does Macduff have? Only one son is killed,
>but he inquires about his children.

Both Macbeth and Lady Macduf refer to Macduff's "babes" (4.1.152 and
4.2.6); often in production there's more than one on stage.  Only the
son is called for in the stage directions at 4.2; perhaps only one child
actor was available, or perhaps Shakespeare, unlike Macbeth, was
exercising some restraint at this point.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 15 Mar 1999 11:03:34 -0800
Subject: 10.0460 Ross and Macduff
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0460 Ross and Macduff

Jack Heller queries:

>I have a two questions. In Macbeth, when Ross arrives to inform Macduff
>of the death of his family, he first tells him that his wife and
>children are well. I understand the notion of breaking the news gently,
>but this seems incongruous with both the purpose of Ross' message and
>the intent of Macduff's question. So why does Ross first say they are
>well?

Because they're in heaven.

>And how many children does Macduff have? Only one son is killed,
>but he inquires about his children. Your thoughts on these questions
>will be appreciated.

Macbeth also refers to them in the plural.  One assumes that the rest
are killed off stage.  It would be pretty tedious having a whole gaggle
of Macduffs walk on one at a time, say something pathetic but prodigious
and be dispatched.

Cheers,
Se

 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.