Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: September ::
Re: The Macbeths
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1541  Thursday, 2 September 1999.

[1]     From:   Virginia Byrne <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 30 Aug 1999 23:52:29 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1527 Q: The Scottish Tragedy

[2]     From:   Ronald Moyer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Aug 1999 17:25:11 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1535 Re: The Macbeths

[3]     From:   Marilyn Bonomi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Sep 1999 22:45:07 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1527 Q: The Scottish Tragedy


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Virginia Byrne <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 30 Aug 1999 23:52:29 EDT
Subject: 10.1527 Q: The Scottish Tragedy
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1527 Q: The Scottish Tragedy

Question #1  he could have been referring to the messenger of the bad
news Ross or to Malcom who showed no sympathy but immediately wanted to
get on with it

The kings were elected from the thanes...designation by the current king
was a good recommendation...Macbeth would have been a hero and thus
easily elected

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ronald Moyer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 31 Aug 1999 17:25:11 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 10.1535 Re: The Macbeths
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1535 Re: The Macbeths

"#1 - In Act I;vii, Lady Macbeth states, "I have given suck",  referring
to the fact that she has given birth and has breast fed, but in Act
IV;iii, Macduff states after the slaughter of his family, "He has no
children" and he is referring to Macbeth.  Did Macbeth have any children
or has Shakespeare made an error here?"

Just back online so I may be repeating. . . .  As many have noted,
Holinshed is not historically accurate and Shakespeare certainly
diverges from his sources, so historical accuracy isn't important; it is
indicated that the Macbeths have no children, and it seems far-fetched
to suppose the audience would know that Lady Macb had been previously
married.  The 1.7 ("I have given suck") passage of Lady M's is, however,
amazingly powerful persuasion, though, I think, often misinterpreted.
Rhetorically, she uses the example of killing the child to persuade
Macbeth to return to his promise to her (to kill Duncan); after
recalling the tenderness of the babe, she uses the ghastly violence as a
means to suggest the horror to which she would sink before she would
break promise to her husband.  This example of "I would rather kill
(murder) my own babe before I would break my vow to you"-this trial to
challenge his love and devotion to equal hers-finally persuades Macb to
shift in, in twelve lines of verse, from rejection of her argument to,
essentially, acceptance of it.  Rhetorically, the child argument wins
her husband and, for the remainder of the scene, sets off a building
re-confirmation of their unity (which subsequently unravels).
Thematically, the passage echoes the 'making war on children' line in
the play.  These are sufficient justifications for the passage.

Further, however, as an imaginative exercise for a 20C actor, surmise
that the Macbeths had a child that died in infancy (nowhere contradicted
in the text); Lady Macbeth's hypothetical dashing of brains (versus
maintaining a vow) becomes more powerfully emotional to herself and to
her husband if they had shared the grief of infant death, subsequent
childlessness, and jealousy of other people's progeny.  Wonderfully and
understandably provocative to contemporary actors (extending but not
violating text).  Best,

Ron Moyer

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marilyn Bonomi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Sep 1999 22:45:07 -0400
Subject: 10.1527 Q: The Scottish Tragedy
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1527 Q: The Scottish Tragedy

>#1 - In Act I;vii, Lady Macbeth states, "I have given suck",  referring
>to the fact that she has given birth and has breast fed, but in Act
>IV;iii, Macduff states after the slaughter of his family, "He has no
>children" and he is referring to Macbeth.  Did Macbeth have any children
>or has Shakespeare made an error here?

I have always read between these lines the idea that SHE has given
suck...  but not to HIS children. That is, Lady Macbeth was previously
Lady Someonelseswife.  I see it as a contrast line: I have given suck, I
have borne children, I am fertile and fecund both of ideas and
offspring.  You, husband, are ineffectual: barren both of children and
of courage.

Marilyn Bonomi
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.