Introduction PPT

Macbeth Introduction
• Written by William
Shakespeare in 1605
• Macbeth is a man who
overthrows the rightful
King of Scotland
• Shakespeare wrote
Macbeth at the beginning
of King James I reign
– Before James succeeded
Elizabeth I, he was king of
Will the real Macbeth please stand up?
Macbeth was a real king of Scotland
He did kill King Duncan
Reigned from 1040-1057
Unlike the Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play
The real Macbeth had a legitimate claim to the throne
The real Macbeth was a strong leader
The real Macbeth’s reign was successful
The real Macbeth was killed at Lumphanan as opposed
to Dunsinane
Connections for British Society
“Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...”
•In November 1605 the Gunpowder Plot was
– Guy Fawkes and his followers (Roman Catholics) planned
to blow up Parliament
– They wanted to bring down the British government and
put a Catholic rulers on the throne
– The plot was discovered and the men involved were tried
and killed as traitors
•Shakespeare sided with the king and seemed to think
that a play about treason and death would find an
audience at this time
So this is a comedy… right?
• Macbeth is one of
Shakespeare’s most famous
tragedies (it is also his shortest)
• Aside from the violent nature
of the plot Shakespeare uses
several literary devices to
enhance the feeling of evil
– He creates a serious and sinister
mood by having most of the play
take place at night
– There is a heavy emphasis on the
supernatural (witches, dreams,
spells, and ghosts)
The Witches
Witchcraft in Shakespeare’s Day
• Many people believed in the power of witches in
Shakespeare’s day, especially King James I. In 1591, when
he was King of Scotland, King James was almost murdered
by a group of witches and sorcerers. Their trial and
testimony convinced King James that they were sources of
evil (witches).
• King James became the King of England in 1603.
Shakespeare knew very well of King James’s superstition,
and he also knew that a play about witchcraft would cause
a stir and make a quick buck. Therefore, he wrote
Macbeth, a play full of elements of evil!
The Witches
• Their character is
modeled after Norse
mythology- the Norns
(three Fates)
• the name Urðr (Wyrd,
Weird) means "fate" or
simply "future",
The norns- by Arthur Rackham
The Witches
• “Double, double toil and trouble” – they cause
more grief for the mortals around them.
• The witches never actually tell Macbeth to kill
Duncan, but merely tempt him with the idea
of becoming king.
• Represent darkness, chaos and confusion.
• “Fair is foul and foul is fair”- a contradiction.
• Evil is good, while good is evil.
The Witches
The witches were also modeled after the
Three Fates of Greek and Roman mythology
• They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal and
immortal from birth to death .
• The names of the three Parcae (Roman Fates) were:
• Nona - spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Her Greek
equivalent was Clotho;
• Decima - measured the thread of life with her rod. Her Greek equivalent
was Lachesis;
• Morta - was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of a
person's death. When she cut the thread with "her abhorrèd shears",
someone on Earth died. Her Greek equivalent was Atropos.
“The Scottish Play”
• A large mythology has built up surrounding
this superstition, with countless stories of
accidents, misfortunes and even deaths, all
mysteriously taking place during runs of
Macbeth (or by actors who had uttered the
• Many actors will not mention the name of
the play aloud, referring to it instead as "The
Scottish play".
The Scottish Play
• It is believed to be bad luck to speak the
word ‘Macbeth’ in a theatre
• Legend has it you will lose all your
friends involved in the production—
• The legend says that an early actor to
play Macbeth died when a real knife was
used instead of a stage knife
• Other strange occurrences and mishaps
surround the play
“The Scottish Play”
Explanation #1
• Shakespeare is said to have used the spells of
real witches in his text, purportedly angering
the witches and causing them to curse the
“The Scottish Play”
Explanation #2
• Struggling theatres or companies would often put
on this popular 'blockbuster' in an effort to save
their flagging fortunes.
• However, it is a tall order for any single production
to reverse a long-running trend of poor business.
• Therefore, the last play performed before a theatre
shut down was often Macbeth, and thus the growth
of the idea that it was an 'unlucky' play.
“The Scottish Play”
Explanation #3
• Theatre companies may have used Macbeth as a back-up play
if they were to lose an actor and were not able to perform the
production originally planned for the performance.
• Macbeth requires fewer actors (when doubling of characters
for actors occurs) and has the least amount of text for the
actors to memorize.
• Macbeth may have been the play kept in theatre companies'
back pockets, just in case some bad luck were to occur prior
to any planning of a performance.
“The Scottish Play”:
A Chronology of Misfortunes
Here are some of the gory particulars:
Beginning with its first performance, in 1606, Dear
Will himself was forced to play Lady Macbeth when
Hal Berridge, the boy designated to play the lady
with a peculiar notion of hospitality, became
inexplicably feverish and died. Moreover, the bloody
play so displeased King James I that he banned it for
five years.
“The Scottish Play”:
A Chronology of Misfortunes
Even brave and talented actors like Glenda
Jackson to Ian McKellen don’t refer to this
haunted play by name, but instead call it
“That Scottish Play” or simply “That Play”;
everyone, it seems, will get the message, in a
“The Scottish Play”
• Several methods exist to dispel the curse, depending
on the actor.
• One is to immediately leave the building the stage is
in with the person who uttered the name, walk
around it three times, spit over their left shoulders,
say an obscenity then wait to be invited back into the
• Another popular "ritual" is to leave the room, knock
three times, be invited in, and then quote a line from
• Yet another is to recite one of Shylock's monologues
from The Merchant of Venice.
“The Scottish Play”
Superstition of Characters’ Names
Mr. and Mrs. M.
The Scottish King
1.the use of equivocal or ambiguous expressions,
especially in order to mislead or hedge. equivocal, ambiguous expression. The speech was
marked by elaborate equivocations.
3.Logic . a fallacy caused by the double meaning of a
Synonyms: fudge, hedge, pussyfoot, tergiversate, waffle, weasel,
beat around (or about) the bush, hem and haw, straddle the fence,
flip-flop, yo-yo; dodge, duck, elude, eschew, evade, shake, shirk,
shun, sidestep, skirt; bypass, circumvent; cavil, quibble; straddle