Monday, December 20, 2010


I don't remember when exactly I bought Macbeth, maybe four or five years down the line. Every time I read it gives me this thrill of emotions and there is quite some history behind it too.

I heard the story first when I was in sixth standard. We had to write our own scripts and I was Lady Macbeth. "All the perfumes in Arabia will not sweeten this hand... ". Never mind I failed miserably, that's another story.

The story of Macbeth goes thus. Three witches confronts Macbeth and his friend Banquo and claim that he is the Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and later the King of Scotland. Banquo, on the other hand, is said to be the father of future kings. Now Macbeth is presently the Thane of Glamis and tries to banish these prophecies from his mind, even as these witches disappear. No longer are they gone, that the king's messengers arrive to inform him that he is indeed the Thane of Cawdor. Doubt start stirring in noble Macbeth's mind and he hastens to inform his wife, Lady Macbeth, his experience. Fed by an unnatural desire, she seeks to help Macbeth fulfill the third prophecy by contemplating and planning the murder of the King who is to be their guest that night. She convinces Macbeth with a strong hand and the deed is done.

However, instead of the joy and comfort they anticipated, they are disturbed and confused. Macbeth goes on a killing spree, prodded by desire and ambition. He is seen as a tyrant and even plans for the murder of Banquo, his trusted aide in battle. Predictably, his son Fleance survives. Lady Macbeth, becomes engulfed by her guilt and suffers a sort of madness before taking her own life. The witches make three more prophecies, o be wary of Macduff, to rest easy until Birman Wood marches and know that he suffers death from a man not born from a woman. Macbeth is somewhat comforted by these omens and ruthlessly brings down Macduff's family. He does not succeed in killing Macduff who was in England at that time. Enraged by the murder of his wife and children, he seeks to avenge himself. His army moves towards his castle camouflaged by a branch until it seemed as thought the Wood were moving. Finally, he kills Macbeth by revealing that he was torn from his mother's womb untimely before birth. The story ends with the battle over and preparations for the next coronation.

There are several salient traits in this play. There is an undercurrent of the supernatural and a beautiful play of emotions. Shakespeare's shortest play is nevertheless powerful. You tangle with witches and ghosts, superstitions and omens. Honour, valour and other noble traits are also poignantly put forth.

There is a separate beauty to Shakespeare's plays. It has a poetic intonation due to its pentameter. Especially, the witches incantations are a poem more popularly known in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie

"Double Double Toil and Trouble"

It is a play on Scottish history to herald James of Scotland, the new King of England. It is said that James had a short attention span and thus this play was kept as short as possible. Also, he was obsessed with witchcraft and strove to fight against it. Well, looks like Shakespeare did some first rate grovelling and fawning!

Although it took me a while to become comfortable with Shakespeare's English, I think it was worth the effort. You actually feel as though you are in medieval Scotland. It's not very authentic but quite enjoyable.


  1. wow...u like macbeth huh?
    Macbeth is my textbook for English and it is way harder than Julius post :)

  2. True, I skipped bits I didn't get, I didn't have to learn it :-) Thanks!