Sunday, April 15, 2012

Active Reading Notes: Macbeth

·         Macbeth and Banquo are generals of Scottish King Duncan’s army and they have just defeated two separate invading armies
o   One led by the Irish rebel leader, Macdonwald and the other from Norway
·         Three witches come together and prophesize that Macbeth will come to be made thane of Cawdor and then eventually king of Scotland; also state that Banquo’s son will come to be the heirs of the throne next
o   Seem to say this in a foreboding way, as if his rise to power will ultimately be his downfall
·         The two seem skeptical, but soon Macbeth is named Thane of Cawdor
·         Macbeth of unsure of whether or not he wants this rise to power à writes home to his wife
o   She has no qualms about climbing the social ladder and tells him to murder Duncan for the crown
o   She persuades him to kill Duncan that very night the two are to dine together
·         Macbeth seems to know right from wrong, but still chooses to do the wrong course of action à has no reason to justify his means either
·         Plan to blame Duncan’s death on his chamberlains à get them drunk and they will be defenseless
o   Macbeth murders Duncan when he is sleeping; he is full of self doubt and ignores the vision he had that involved a bloody dagger floating in front of him
o   Macbeth is shaken terribly à forgets to leave the daggers with the chamberlains to frame them à Macbeth won’t go back into the room though
o   Lady Macbeth shames him saying he is a coward; goes to put the daggers there herself
·         Macbeth hears knocking on three separate occasions, is frightened
o   “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood, Clean from my hand?”
o   “A little water clears us of this deed, How easy it is then!” 
·         The discovery of Duncan’s body has Macbeth all wound up and jumpy
o   Macbeth kills the chamberlains too out of rage
o    Malcolm flees to England and Donalbain flees to Ireland (because they are seen as suspects since they are both in line for the crown)
o   Macbeth takes to the kings position immediately
·         Ominous happenings right after Duncan’s death and right before Macbeth coronation:
o   It is daytime, but dark outside
o   Last Tuesday, an owl killed a falcon
o   Duncan’s beautiful, well-trained horses behaved wildly and ate one another
·         Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth start to hallucinate about their kill
·         Macbeth, paranoid and confused, plans to hire a group of murders to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance, in order to null the witches prophecy about them taking his throne next
o   Ambush them right before the dinner, manages to kill Banquo but Fleance escapes à Macbeth is worried and mad
o   As long as Fleance lives, the prophecy that he will come to seize the throne will be a possibility
·         Macbeth tells his wife that his mind is full of scorpions à guilt
·         At the feast, Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost; starts to freak out which startles his guest
o   They think that he is losing it and the nobles start to lose their faith in his skills to rules
o   His subjects are also worried about Macbeth, lose faith as well
·         Scared and worried about his position, he goes to the witches for help à they then introduce him to demon and spirits who also prophesize Macbeth’s future
o   They tell him:
§   Floating head à To beware of the noblemen Macduff (didn’t want Macbeth in the throne in the first place)
§  Bloodied child à It’s impossible that he will be harmed by any man born of woman
§  Crowned child holding a tree àHe will be safe until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Castle
o   Feels secure à all men are born of women, forest can’t move
o   We know from the previous scene before though that it’s just a false sense of security that Hecate and witches are enacting
§  Why are they meddling?
o   Orders that Macduff’s castle be seize and to kill his wife and children (Macduff has escaped to England to join with Malcolm’s forces)
o   We see that Macbeth is becoming more and more cruel and paranoid when he is told more prophecies
·         Macduff learns of his family’s murders and vows revenge
·         Malcolm has managed to put together and army in England; Macduff joins him à ride to England to try and take out Macbeth
·         The Scottish nobles support Malcolm; they are scared of Macbeth’s crazed and murderous ways
·         Lady Macbeth is not coping with the guilt of all the deaths at her and her husband’s hands
o   Wakes from a dream believing there is blood all over her hand; also sleepwalks all the time
o   Macbeth receives notices that she committed suicide right before battle à he goes into shock and despair
·         He is depressed and confused but still waits for Malcolm’s army who have withdrawn to Dunsinane  à reinforces his idea that he is invincible
o   Learns that Malcolm’s army is coming with boughs made from Birnam Wood (witches prophecy) à fearful that his demise is coming
·         Malcolm’s forces eventually overtake Macbeth’s
o   On the battlefield, Macbeth comes in contact with Macduff à still wants him very much dead
o   Macduff tells him he was not born from a women, but was “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb (C section)
·         All the prophecies have come true and Macbeth knows that he is doomed now à still fights on until Macduff kills and beheads him
·         Malcolm comes to take the throne à promises to treat his people with grace and kindness; invites everyone to his coronation at Scone
·         Macbeth is a power -hunger  tyrant, yet we don’t condemn him à was a good man that did the wrong things?   Or was he just a bad person to begin with?
o   He isn’t the “villain” of the story à he did commit multiple atrocities, but the reader somehow (or at least I did) try to make up and excuse as to why he did such crime
o   Thoughts à “he only did it because he was peer pressured by his wife”, etc.
o   He doesn’t take pleasure in his horrid actions, actually feels remorseful about it which is why the reader wants to forgive him

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