A new year, a new unit. Over the past few weeks my peers in the PLP 11 Cohort have started a new unit; This unit is a fusion of Macbeth’s Shakespeare and the 1950’s. Thus far, I have been captivated by both subjects. The history of the 1950’s is interesting and has lead some compelling classes. The drama of Macbeth’s Shakespeare is almost bested by the unfolding events of the Cold War. Yet, the fascinating plays of Shakespeare are a strong contender. As you can tell it would be an understatement to say this has been my favourite subject of the year.
With this unit we have tackled a complex and overwhelming amount of information and ideas. To properly consume this information my class and I took on our most arduous and lofty task… Note Taking. This was are first taste of lectures and surprisingly the general consensus was good. During these lectures, we practiced writing and tested out different styles of note taking. I aired to the side of standard for the first week, for both subjects (Macbeth, and 1950’s).
“Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair.” This week I have learned an enormous amount about both subjects, from the Nuremberg Trial, to William Shakespeare’s asphyxiation with paradoxes. This is something I was quite interested with this week, his use of paradoxes. A paradox is a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true. His vocabulary coupled with the use of paradoxes makes for a very attractive read.
In both Macbeth and the 1950’s Cold Wars there are obvious connections that I have discovered. In Macbeth, Shakespeare plays with the notion of power and natural ambition.The glaring theme is: destruction wrought when ambition goes unchecked by moral constraints. Macbeth’s ambition to become king coupled with Lady Macbeth’s desire, leads them to the plot of killing King Duncan. When the allies became the “victors” of WW2, they obtained Germany and “nurtured” its economic infrastructure, in a bleak post war Europe. At this point in time, the powers that be, in Russia had plans of world dominance. Stalin and the USSR, came soaring into Germany on a direct course to Berlin. Stalin and the Eastern Bloc had their sights set, and were ambitious for power. This act of aggression would spark the flame of the Cold War. This ambition is a key connection between, Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Cold War.
Lastly, I was intensely interested in the Big Three dynamic and the Shakespearean drama that occurred during, The Potsdam Conference. I found inspiration in this Cold War drama and saw a clear connection between the two subjects. In one case, the Big Three: Joseph Stalin, Harry Truman, and Winston Churchill, all had dirty little secrets. During this time, Harry Truman and the US, were on a mission to create and use a Nuclear Weapon. During this conference, Harry Truman would receive world changing news, a successful bomb. This is where an interesting dynamic rears it’s ugly head. Truman was not keen on telling these two huge powers on his new toy, and would only tell Churchill. This story undeniably reminds me of Macbeth’s act one, the resemblance is uncanny. Macbeth is a noble general who has returned from the bloodshed of war, he is ambitious and compelled to move up the ranks. With support from his wife, Lady Macbeth, and the sorcery from the witches he is pushed to kill the King. What a coincidence, King Duncan, is coming to their castle and would present a mirror image of the Potsdam Conference. Just like the 1950’s big three, Lady Macbeth (Truman) and Macbeth (Churchill) would hatch a plan to kill King Duncan (Stalin). Similar to the Cold War, they would present themselves as courteous and helpful but have different plans at play.
This week I was introduced with the unit of a life time. A unsurprisingly interesting fusion of Shakespeare and the 1950’s. From my first lecture to first Shakespearean play I have learned a lot about the 1950’s, Shakespeare, and Macbeth.