Book: Macbeth

Author: William Shakespeare

Rating: 4/5

Macbeth-William Shakespeare

A classic Shakespearean tragedy where, ultimately, the hero (Macbeth) dies after undergoing his tragic fall...Interwoven with themes of madness, greed, power, royalty, religion, corruption, magic and the supernatural, Macbeth portrays the tale of King Duncan's overpowering by the Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth. After being foretold his fortune by three supernatural witches upon "the heath" in "thunder, lightning, or in rain", Macbeth ruthlessly purses the crown and ultimate power, urged on by his wife, and simultaneously ultimate corruption as both succumb of madness and find that potential gain only results in absolute, conclusive loss, indicative of the tragic form.


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Social/Historical context:

Set in Renaissance England, Shakespeare employs many of the conventions of the era: of the fascination with plays and the performative space in his new Globe, and the obsessive furor for tragedy in this play. Moreover, written under the reign of James I, Shakespeare flatters the king through reinforcing his line through the character of Banquo who "shalt have kings" and also through indulging James I's fearful fascination with witchcraft and sorcery (following his publication of 'Daemonologie') with his inclusion of the witches and the powers of the supernatural in the play.


Writing Style:

Written in the classical Shakespearean play form, Macbeth incorporates plain verse for its lesser characters, iambic pentameter, occasional interspersed chants in trochaic tetrameter for the three witches and sometimes Lady Macbeth too, and a few sonnets or rhyming couplets that evoke the typical Shakespearean style and Renaissance play conventions. The style serves to characterise (through low or elevated language and through use of plain or iambic metre) and is matched by corresponding use of language. Moreover stage directions add a 3D element to the play and enable the reader to envision the audience perspective.


My Thoughts:

A fantastic, yet brutal, play. Evocative of many questions with its interlacing themes and ethical dilemmas. A classic Shakespearean tragedy - undeniably canonical in its featuring in many curriculums nationwide yet unmissable and a must-read nonetheless. Enjoyable in the tragic sense yet, personally, a little too brutal and less preferable to some of his other tragedies (for example the infamous 'Hamlet' or 'Othello'!)


Book Reviewed by Genevieve

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