No books are as beloved as books you fell in love with as a kid. I have a few of them, but as far as Shakespeare goes, it was always Macbeth for me. I remember liking Romeo and Juliet, not understanding Hamlet but being mesmerized by Macbeth. (Those are The Big Three taught in high schools. Why is that? Because they are great but mostly because they have no sex in them. Yes, R&J got it on, but it’s off stage and we merely assume it happened. We have no trouble exposing kids to horrific violence: a double suicide to practically everyone dying in Hamlet to Lady Macbeth talking about taking her suckling babe from her breast to smash its head in, to later in the play, an on-stage stabbing of an infant. Maybe humanity would be better served if instead of spoon-feeding kids violence all the time, we let them read Midsummer Night’s Dream, where everyone goes into the woods, gets high and has sex with everyone else. I’m not sure that could be worse.)
Macbeth captured me at fifteen. Witches and magic and ghosts and double double toil and trouble and something wicked this way comes and Beverly Cleary never wrote a character like Lady Macbeth. She is my All Time Favorite Literary Character, with apologies to Lizzie Bennet.
She goes from super fierce evil woman who decides in the blink of an eye to kill Duncan to being almost a non entity in the last four acts. I wish Shakespeare had shown us more of her journey but I assume he knew best. When Macbeth tells her he decided not to go ahead with the murder, she questioned his manhood, and it’s nice to know that particular button-pushing still works 400 years later.
Lady Macbeth, who was all talk before the murder, becomes unhinged after, but Macbeth just gets bolder and bolder. The way to cover up the first murder is with another, and another, and another. How very Walter White of him.
When he goes to talk to the witches the second time, they give him three prophesies. 1.) Beware Macduff. 2.) That no one of woman born shall harm Macbeth and 3.) That Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him.
Knowing that 2.) everyone was born of woman and 3.) forests can’t move, Macbeth feels invincible. Except he forgot 1.)
Maybe he remembered that part right before Macduff chopped his head off.
I just remembered today is the Ides of March. And considering what this blog is called, I’m annoyed I didn’t read Julius Caesar.
It’s always nice to revisit Inverness, but I’ve had enough blood to last me awhile. (Out, damned spot!) I need something lighter, perhaps something I’ve never read before. Perhaps a visit to Prospero and Ariel. Ahhh, more magic. Bet I would have loved it at fifteen.