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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
Macbeth Questions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0741  Wednesday, 20 April 2005

[1]     From:   Arlene Schulman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 17:27:41 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions

[2]     From:   Norman Hinton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 20:29:18 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 22:36:24 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions

[4]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 20:36:23 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions

[5]     From:   Brenno Kenji <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Apr 2005 10:11:22 -0300 (ART)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arlene Schulman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 17:27:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.0728 Macbeth Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions

Thomas M. Lahey asks:

 >Act I, Scene 3, lines 128-30:

 >    Two truths are told,
 >    As happy prologues to the swelling act
 >    Of the imperial theme.
 >
 >    What are the "Two truths"?
 >
 >    What is "the swelling act"?

Hi Tom,

The weird sisters have hailed Macbeth, somewhat mysteriously, as "Thane
of Glamis" (which he was), "Thane of Cawdor" (which he was not), and
"King hereafter" (which he assuredly had not expectation of ever being).

Now he is addressed by Ross and Angus as both Thane of Glamis and Thane
of Cawdor.  When he asks why they address him so, when the Thane of
Cawdor still lives, they tell him that Cawdor is a traitor and
imprisoned and soon to die, making Macbeth, at Duncan's order, truly
"Thane of Cawdor" as well as "Thane of Glamis".  His aside is a comment
on the truth of the weird sisters' first two hails - these are the Two
Truths.

The "imperial theme" is their prediction that he will be "king
hereafter" - the third "truth" that as yet is not fulfilled.  The
"swelling act" would be the fulfillment of this third truth and his
elevation to king - by means as yet unknown but certainly a subject of
his own speculation now that two of the three "truths" are proven correct.

The whole quote may also be a literary comparison of the dramatic action
of Macbeth's "life" to the actual dramatic structure of a play:
prologue... swelling act... theme.   Shakespeare was very fond of
theatrical references and metaphors.

Best,
Arlene

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norman Hinton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 20:29:18 -0500
Subject: 16.0728 Macbeth Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions

G. Wilson Knight wrote a book titled _The Imperial Theme_.  It might be
useful (though I don't remember Knight being useful generally.)

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 22:36:24 -0400
Subject: 16.0728 Macbeth Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions

 >Act I, Scene 3, lines 128-30:
 >
 >Two truths are told,
 >As happy prologues to the swelling act
 >Of the imperial theme.
 >
 >What are the "Two truths"?

Macbeth is (1) thane of Glamis and (2) thane of Cawdor.

 >What is "the swelling act"?

A metaphor.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Apr 2005 20:36:23 -0700
Subject: 16.0728 Macbeth Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions

 >Two truths are told,
 >As happy prologues to the swelling act
 >Of the imperial theme.
 >
 >What are the "Two truths"?

That he is Glamis and now also Cawdor.

 >What is "the swelling act"?

The action rising to him becoming king

Colin Cox

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brenno Kenji <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Apr 2005 10:11:22 -0300 (ART)
Subject: 16.0728 Macbeth Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0728 Macbeth Questions

The two truths Macbeth was told by the Weird sisters:

1. That Macbeth is, indeed, Thane of Glamis ("By Sinel's death I know I
am Thane of Glamis")
2. That Macbeth is, without yet knowing it, Thane of Cawdor (The former
Cawdor, accused of betrayal, had just been overthrown and his vacant
position offered to Macbeth by the King)

Those truths should act as prologues (theatrical terms are used) to the
swelling act (the main act, the more important event) of the imperial theme:

That Macbeth shall be king thereafter.

Best,
Brenno

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