The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2260 Tuesday, 21 December 1999.
Date: Monday, 20 Dec 1999 09:50:40 -0800
Subject: 10.2249 Parents and Children in *Macbeth*
Comment: Re: SHK 10.2249 Parents and Children in *Macbeth*
I also enjoyed Paul Swanson's post on broken paternal bonds in Macbeth.
I'm wondering if we could extend it somewhat, though-is there an
established pattern of absent fathers and absent sons in the play?
While I don't want to get into speculation about how many children and
of what gender Lord Macbeth had, he makes a real contrast with Banquo,
who has ambition for his son, and goes down telling him to flee. In
fact, Macbeth is the only major male character to lack both a father and
a son. To me, this seems to imply a certain isolation, a basic
indifference to the past (the traditions of kingship, but also, more
generally, all obligations which are always already in place, which
Macbeth cannot choose for himself), and to the future (the possibilities
for his children, and obligations generally, since all obligations are
for the future).
We hear a lot about absent mothers in Shakespeare, but what about absent
fathers? Modern studies of fatherhood in Shakespeare seem to divide
between treating it as patriarchy, and therefore politically suspect, or
treating it psychologically, and therefore as something kind of
pathological. Are there good models of fatherhood? And do they tie in
some sort of established pattern to wider issues in the plays?