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Macbeth… Preparing for Themes. On a sheet of paper, jot down your thoughts about the following statements: It is impossible to be ambitious and maintain your integrity. The world is just; if you do something wrong, you will be punished for it.

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macbeth preparing for themes
Macbeth… Preparing for Themes

On a sheet of paper, jot down your thoughts about the following statements:

  • It is impossible to be ambitious and maintain your integrity.
  • The world is just; if you do something wrong, you will be punished for it.
  • If somebody is coerced into killing, he or she is not responsible for that death.
background
Background
  • English Renaissance-16th to early 17th cent.
  • Era of great learning and knowledge
  • Age of nationalism—people were proud to be English
  • Age of humanism (today’s humanities… grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry, philosophy)
  • Around 1600, there was a growing sense of pessimism—plays began to reflect this.
background1
Background
  • Elizabethan Era-1558 to 1603
    • Plays tend to be sentimental and romantic
    • More nationalistic
    • More crossing of class barriers (falling in love)
    • Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It
  • Jacobean Era-1603 to 1625
    • More realistic and satirical
    • More disillusioned and dark
    • Greater sense of class conflict
    • Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet
why the change
Why the Change?
  • 1. People were worried about the loss of Queen Elizabeth, who had no heirs.
      • The Elizabethan era was generally a prosperous age, so losing her wasn’t that great for the country…
  • 2. James I became King—not as popular as Elizabeth.
      • She was capable, brilliant, charming, and authoritative… um… he wasn’t.
background on macbeth
Background on Macbeth
  • The real Macbeth was an 11th century Scottish King. He became King after killing Duncan, the incompetent ruler with a six-year reign full of rebellion.
    • Ruled peacefully for 10 years.
    • Enacted laws protecting the rights of widows and orphans
    • Introduced stone construction... great news, particularly during a time period when thatch roofs were intentionally burned…
background on macbeth1
Background on Macbeth
  • The realMacbeth had a spotty final 7 years…
    • Duncan’s exiled sons had grown to adulthood and were plotting to invade Scotland and oust Macbeth.
    • Macbeth became paranoid, perhaps out of guilt for killing Duncan?
background on macbeth2
Background on Macbeth
  • Written to please King James I (formerly King James VI of Scotland)
    • King James was interested in witchcraft, hence the “weird sisters.”
    • King James also thought he was descended from Banquo, who is portrayed well in the play
  • Most likely written between 1603-1607
themes
Themes
  • 1. Unchecked ambition Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s lust for power
  • 2. The Burden of guilt“… Cawdor shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more” (2.2)
  • 3. “Nothing is but what is not.”
watch for these symbols and motifs
Watch for these symbols and motifs…
  • The role of blood
  • The role of the supernatural
    • Witches
    • Ghosts
    • Hallucinations
    • Prophecy
  • Weather (yes… again…)
superstition
Superstition…
  • Some people believe that evil transcends the story and that the play is cursed; there is a fear that uttering its name can cause bad luck.
  • Therefore, Macbeth is also referred to as “The Scottish Play,”“MacB,” or “The Comedy of Glamis.”
  • Speak the name in a theater? You must exit, turn around 3 times, and spit or curse.