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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: December ::
Re: 3rd Murderer in Macbeth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2261  Tuesday, 21 December 1999.

[1]     From:   Eric W Beato <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Dec 1999 13:47:01 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

[2]     From:   Paul Swanson <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Dec 1999 18:23:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

[3]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Dec 1999 23:27:26 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

[4]     From:   Perry Herzfeld <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Dec 1999 13:04:46 +1100
        Subj:   Re: Macbeth

[5]     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Dec 1999 01:51:28 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

[6]     From:   J. Kenneth Campbell <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Dec 1999 23:36:44 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric W Beato <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Dec 1999 13:47:01 -0500
Subject: 3rd Murderer in Macbeth
Comment:        SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

One interpretation of the third murderer is that Seyton, later clearly
seen as Macbeth's closest servingman, might be the third murderer.  He
would be the servant who escorts the two murderers into Macbeth's
presence, who escorts them out, and who joins them without being part of
the plan.  I have always assumed that Seyton was sent along as more than
a spy.  My assumption is that he might be there to dispose of the two
murderers, eliminating any witnesses and providing two "suspects" for
the murder of Banquo.  With this interpretation, it would be Seyton who
appears at the door of the following banquet scene.

Hope this provides food for thought.

Best wishes,
Rick Beato
Lisle (IL) Senior High School

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Swanson <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Dec 1999 18:23:32 -0500
Subject: 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

>I recently wrote an exam where I had to deal with the 3rd murderer in
>Macbeth a bit.  I'm just wondering what the going theory is on his/her
>identity.  I recognize that a lot of it is just a dramatic technique and
>that the third murderer doesn't really need to have an identity, but I
>thought that a lot of information provided in the earlier, and later
>scene suggested that Shakespeare was leading towards someone in
>particular.  To me he seemed to be leaning towards the supernatural.
>Perhaps one of the witches, or Hecate.

A 1996 Alabama Shakespeare festival production of Macbeth played with
the witches quite a bit in the capacity that John Deman asks about.
Although I could be wrong about this, I believe they used one of the
witches as the 3rd murderer.

This productions, however, made even greater use of the witches, giving
them much more stage time and consequently a more direct impact on the
events of the play. For instance, in 4.2, when Lady Macduff and her
children are being murdered, the Alabama production had her attempting
to escape through one of the exits one stage. As she nears the exit, the
witches appear there, preventing her from escaping.

The production also had the witches on stage in 2.1, during M's "Is this
a dagger...", giving the audience they were directly influencing M's
fateful walk to Duncan's chamber.

A fascinating production, but casting the 3rd murdered as a witch is a
real danger to one of the centers of the play, Macbeth's free will. If
we see the witches having a clear and direct influence on Macbeth and
those who are murdered, it somewhat takes Macbeth off the hook. After
all, the witches are then participating in the murders, not merely
forecasting them.  If this is true, Macbeth is acting in cooperation
with demonic or evil powers that seem to be predestined and
uncontrollable, not simply exercising a choice.

The name of the play is not Macbeth; it is the TRAGEDY of Macbeth. What
is tragic is that a noble person gives up their sense of reason and
morality of their own free will. Alabama's production, albeit
fascinating, made this theme murky, as would, I believe, any production
which cast a witch or a supernatural element as the 3rd murderer.

Besides: everybody knows that Innogen and Mrs. Bottom took turns being
the real 3rd witch...

Paul Swanson

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Dec 1999 23:27:26 +0000
Subject: 3rd Murderer in Macbeth
Comment:        SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

Recent production in UK (West Yorkshire Playhouse - brilliant show! )
had Lady Macbeth as 3rd murderer. She was also brought on for her first
entrance neurotically tearing up baby clothes - possibly from her own
miscarriages etc etc ? Helps to explain the enormous number of murdered,
ditch-delivered, mutilated, baby / child images in the play?

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Perry Herzfeld <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Dec 1999 13:04:46 +1100
Subject:        Re: Macbeth

In Harold C Goddard's essay "Macbeth as the Third Murderer" he presents
some compelling arguments to support the idea of the title.  Briefly,
his thesis is that the third murderer is meant to indicate to the
audience Macbeth's ambition and thought: it is not Macbeth's body, but
his mind and his will that the third murderer represents.  Goddard
claims that Shakespeare conveys this idea in everything the third
murderer says since all his words has something in it to remind us of
Macbeth.  Definitely worth a read.

Perry Herzfeld

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Dec 1999 01:51:28 -0500
Subject: 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

Hi, 3rd Murderer is a challenge to the director. Polanski made Ross,
always the opportunist, 3rd Murderer.

A Stratford Ontario production about 10 years ago used 3rd Witch who
spun Fleance out of harm's way, covered him with her cloak and they both
disappeared. Thus the witch made sure the prophecy would come true.

John Ramsay
Welland Ontario

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J. Kenneth Campbell <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Dec 1999 23:36:44 -0800
Subject: 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2248 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

I always figured that it was Ross or Lennex because they had the most to
gain if Mac Beth remained King.  They were at the time the play, Thanes
in name only as their lands were totally occupied by the Norwegians.

J. K. Campbell
 

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