The uniqueness of Macbeth is because of the combination between its characters and the gloomy aura surrounding them. Indeed, Macbeth is a masterwork by William Shakespeare, although it is a short tragedy. It is a rare and extraordinary literary work.
The first tragedy in my list of books
In my first list of books, I included as first book Macbeth. Macbeth is the shortest play among the most remarkable tragedies of William Shakespeare, who wrote it around 1606. A dark and gloomy aura lingers in this drama. The main characters are the thane of Glamis Macbeth with his wife, the three Weyward sisters (the witches), the king of Scotland Duncan, Duncan’s elder son Malcolm and the Scottish thane Banquo. In the tragedy of Macbeth, the metaphysical world meets the worst aspects of human nature. We find corruption, murder, power, lust, and extreme ambition besides avidity, misery, and desperation. It is the tragic story of Macbeth, who is instigated by his enthusiasm and his wife to commit murders to become king of Scotland. He will end up a victim of the crimes he committed in the past, once he realises his crimes’ gravity.
The darkness and tension
The dark ambience of Macbeth is the first thing, which captivates my attention. This play develops in five acts, and each act contains different scenes. At the beginning of the first act, Shakespeare started this tragedy with Thunder and lightning and three witches’ entrance. In the third scene, they greet Macbeth as Thane of Glamis and Cawdor; also, the third witch prophesies him to be king hereafter. Macbeth is a loyal general in the service of Duncan, the King of Scotland. Suddenly the situation changes, once Lady Macbeth receives the letter of her husband, the tension increases. Indeed, she plans the murder of King Duncan, evoking evil spirits to help her fall victim to the direst cruelty. And she exerts a strong influence over Macbeth, persuading him to commit this disgraceful action.
An evil portrayal of the women
What it’s impressive in this drama is Shakespeare’s perspective regarding the women, how they can be wicked and, at the same time, powerful. The Weyward sisters, i.e., the witches, prove the persecution against witchcraft in that period. It can be legitimate to think that this tragedy added another stone in a wall made of superstitions, which will lead to a witch hunt. The witchcraft trials led to the murder of many innocent women because they represented an evil force. Although Macbeth committed all the crimes, the witches manipulated his mind, and Lady Macbeth hatched the plan, instigating him. The three witches have the power to prophesy and govern the climate, and lady Macbeth has a powerful influence on her husband’s mind.
Even though I love Shakespeare and Macbeth is a must-to-read drama, I’m perplexed by his vision of the woman as wicked and hideous. Without any doubt, this was the period of public condemn of every type of witchcraft as Reginald Scot attested in his The Discovery of Witchcraft in 1584, where he described the horrendous mass execution in 1582 in Kent. Of course, I don’t have doubts about the uniqueness of this opera. The edition I’m reading is from the British publisher Wordsworth Editions. To be continued in the next post because I’m continuing to read it!