The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0766 Friday, 22 April 2005
From: Joseph Egert <
Date: Thursday, 21 Apr 2005 16:21:56 +0000
Subject: 16.0751 Macbeth Questions
Comment: Re: SHK 16.0751 Macbeth Questions
I believe John Drakakis is correct in linking the "swelling" act to
tumescence. The slaughter of Duncan does in fact resemble an orgasmic
rape-murder as in Tarquin's stealthy assault on Lucrece.
"Swelling" and "imperial" may bear other meanings as well. Shakespeare
describes "the ambitious ocean swell" in JULIUS CAESAR, often heralding
an approaching storm. This ocean of ambition swells both around and
within Macbeth himself. Macbeth and his fellow warriors are afflicted
with the king's "Evil." They are among "the strangely-visited people/All
swollen and ulcerous" in dire need of Edward's healing touch of grace.
In other plays, the "swelling heart" may be filled with venomous malice,
envy, treason, and evil.
As Malcolm warns, "A good and virtuous nature may recoil/In an imperial
charge." Aren't Macbeth and Banquo Duncan's "cannons overcharged with
double cracks" who succumb to the corruption of empire?
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