Macbeth, a Timeless Play?
In this blog post I will introduce the subject of our learning, Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and the timeless themes it subjectively may portray. I will also go over my takeaways from the project as well as the timeless theme that I found to be in my scene.
As in all projects, our first step in this one was to study our subject, Macbeth. I enjoyed this part quite a lot. For this part, we learned about the timeless themes by reading the play and listening our teacher telling us about it, we also learned about the portrayal of the play and it’s timeless themes in other forms of media. Along with the in classroom learning we did about Macbeth, I also read articles that I found interesting about Macbeth in order to expand my knowledge of the subject as well as diversify my sources.
While we learned about Macbeth, I created a chart in which I noted different aspects of Macbeth as well as notable events that happened throughout the play. I used this chart to look into the play when I studied it as to create a cohesive web of events and ideas. This chart was a good tool to connect the events and story of Macbeth to the timeless themes that are portrayed within it.
As with any good literature, most works of Shakespeare are not made up of ideas which exist within a certain century or culture, but rather overarching ideas which appease to our intuitive morals such as justice, kindness, ambition, guilt, rage, lust, trust, respect, and loyalty. You can see this well with “Macbeth” where the audience is first lead to trust Macbeth with his seeming loyalty and kindness and then have to follow along as this once good protagonist becomes evermore evil as he becomes overcome by ambition and all his virtues turn to vice.
When reading or watching “Macbeth”, in the beginning, Lady Macbeth often becomes the embodiment of the vices with her unbridled ambition, lust, envy, greed, and pride. Macbeth on the other hand, is virtuous at the start. Lady Macbeth’s vice is almost transferred to Macbeth between Act 2 scene 2 and Act 3 scene 1. In this act, Lady Macbeth has convinced Macbeth to kill the king and in killing the king, Macbeth looses all his virtues, his morals no longer existent. At the point of his crowning, all Macbeth has left is greed and guilt.
At this point in the play, Lady Macbeth starts to either realize the fallacy of her actions or somehow changes to become more virtuous. Whatever the reason may be, she does the logical thing and commits suicide. The play also gives Macbeth a good end to his story, having him (now being very greedy and cruel) be killed by the good guys (Macduff kills him).
For the product of our project, we had to play scenes in which we showed the fundamental and timeless theme of our individual scenes. For this I chose act II, scene II. The first reason for why I chose this scene was a logical error. In reading the rest of the play, I had forgotten which scene it was where the king gets killed and I had chosen to do the scene 1 after when he actually gets killed in the play. I thought that it would suit the theme that most appealed to me, that unbridled ambition corrupts. Of course I ended up doing scene II. This scene is when Macbeth confides in Lady Macbeth after killing the king. In this, Lady Macbeth, somewhat cruelly tells Macbeth to man up and just get over it. Macbeth of course does not get over it. I found that this scene showed a much deeper message than just unbridled ambition. I also had to connect this timeless theme in Macbeth to Avatar, which was quite easy, as once you have an end, reasoning as a means to that end is very straightforward.
As it states in the playbill, “In this scene I saw that it showed the loss of morality and righteousness (the virtues) for unbridled ambition (the vices). After killing the king, Macbeth is scared of what he has become as he has killed what he saw as nearest to god on this earth. Because of him killing what he sees as the embodiment of righteousness, he deems himself as no longer righteous. From this he also looses his sense of morality. In this sense, he throws away his morals because he thinks himself devoid of virtue after killing his king. This one somewhat subconscious action after making a decision of ambition is what I believe makes him behave as badly as he does for the remainder of the play.
Just like Macbeth makes the decision to kill his king which makes him king and inadvertently makes him loose his morals, the CEO of the operation upon which the movie, “Avatar” is based makes the decision to throw away the lives of the innocent natives who live on Andorra in order to make a lot of money. This is immoral the same immorality as what was shown in Macbeth with the only difference being that the CEO of the mining operation saw the natives as sub-human from the start.
We also make this decision, sometimes in small ways which we may not even notice and sometimes in ways that drag us down all the way to death, such as what happened to Macbeth.”
My interpretation of Macbeth, Act II scene II.
Our assignment for the end product of this project was to do a scene in the play Macbeth and show how the timeless theme we had chosen prevails throughout it. As my scene and my theme were both very timeless, I decided the best course to take would be to cut down the script to only the necessarily parts in order to convey my message.
I think that the way in which I brought myself to a point of clarity was not the worst either. When we were supposed to do some activities which would bring us some clarity about the message, I used the time to write an essay about what timeless theme was being portrayed in the scene, using some contemporary sources for comparison. This way was pretty good to find out what exactly I wanted to make my message, but the essay itself wasn’t a very good piece of literature and my points were not well connected. I had also not done the steps that the teacher had asked for, which I completed afterwards, handing them in a little late.
MACBETH "I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?"
LADY MACBETH "I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry."
MACBETH "Two lodged in a near chamber" "One cried “God bless us” and “Amen”." "List’ning their fear. I could not say “Amen”"%2
A visible shockedness about it* "When they did say “God bless us.”"
Macbeth looks at his hands and looks at the sky (like at god) LADY MACBETH "Consider it not so deeply. " "Waves hand in air like it’s not such a big deal"
MACBETH "But wherefore could not I pronounce “Amen”?"" "I had most need of blessing, and “Amen”" "Stuck in my throat." Almost crying in the way he speaks, dread or something
LADY MACBETH *shaking head in “nononononono* "These deeds must not be thought" "After these ways; so, it will make us mad."
MACBETH "Me thought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!" "Macbeth does murder sleep”—the innocent sleep," "Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care." He’s talking about something he holds sacred, so speak like that
LADY MACBETH "Lightly What do you mean? "
MACBETH "Still it cried “Sleep no more!” to all the house." “Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore" "Cawdor" Big emphasis on every word: "Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more.”
LADY MACBETH "Why, worthy thane," "You do unbend your noble strength to think" "So brainsickly of things. Go get some water" "Go to part of the side of the stage, pretend to wash hands "
MACBETH "Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood" "Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather" "The multitudinous seas incarnadine," "Making the green one red." MACBETH "To know my deed ’twere best not know myself."
As you may see, my interpretation of the scene was a shortened version of the original scene with some added stage directions. Although I found my adaptation quite nice, I did not play my adaptation well at our exhibition. I blame it on sickness (I had only practiced my parts at home, away from the people I would be doing the play with) and not enough practice. Although I had spent a day practicing my lines, they escaped my mind when the time came to it. I think that I should have practiced them more.
I conclude that this project was a good one, my teacher has convinced me that Shakespeare’s, “Macbeth” is a timeless piece of literature. In my studying and learning I have also learned which elements of a story can be defined as timeless and which ones aren’t as much. I can also see how these timeless themes manifest in our society today. The timeless elements of a story are those that play to human nature. They play to our timeless morals which through every stage of humanity have existed and will exist.
This project has helped me understand what elements of stories are timeless and how literary devices can make us feel happiness and disgust.