The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0857  Tuesday, 3 May 2005

From:           Kris McDermott <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 1 May 2005 16:07:49 -0400
Subject: 16.0848 Macbeth Questions
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0848 Macbeth Questions

 >>"Swelling" in MACBETH also carries the key sense of pregnancy and
 >>fertile/mortal growth. Time itself is seeded by the power-lusts of the
 >>characters--events are "new hatched to th'woeful time." Duncan has
 >>planted a poisonous Macbeth and will reap the harvest. He has given
 >>birth to the venomous serpent who will grow to sting him.

Joe Egert's reading is further supported by one of my favorite passages
in the play -- the supreme irony of Duncan's fatuous observation that
Macbeth's castle occupies a "pleasant seat" beloved of the
"temple-haunting martlet" --

      ...No jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage but this bird
Hath made his pendant bed and procreant cradle;
Where they most breed and haunt I have observed
The air is delicate.

-- and the "unsex'd" Lady Macbeth makes her appearance upon these lines,
like a raptor. It is certainly possible to argue that throughout the
entire play the Macbeths' crimes are imagined in terms of perversions of
fertility and sexuality. Both Alvin Kernan and Garry Wills have argued
that this play appeals not only to James' obsession with witches, but to
his assumption that his kingship is inseparable from his proven fertility.

Kris McDermott
Central Michigan University

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