I did not know the line “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” came from Macbeth. Now I do!
[I assume you have read Macbeth. If not, read carefully, for there are spoilers in the main plot of the post. If you don’t care, go ahead.]
I read Macbeth quite rapidly, but I did put off writing the review on the blog. I find that Shakespeare reads quite easily (controversial statement right there). For one, his plays are not in prose, but poetry which reads faster than prose. And his writing is very engaging and constantly moving forward, since it was written for stage. Today I met a man who has been working with Macbeth for seven or eight years. He said that one of the reasons why Shakespeare is so great is because of his metaphors. His metaphors are like puzzles sprinkled throughout his works, one always feels a little excited when “deciphering” these metaphors and very happy when successful at it. I must agree.
Macbeth was as full of metaphors as any Shakespearean masterpiece. But it was the imagery that set the grim and dreary atmosphere. The constant mention of blood, murder, Macbeth’s descend into insanity, Banquo’s ghost, the witches and the apparitions, the battles — all this combined into a large, gray cloud that weighed on the whole scene. Personally, I rather enjoyed such a powerful, sweeping atmosphere of depression and doom. Nothing is always happy-go-lucky. Sometimes it is Macbeth.
To complete the level of education I am at right now, I had to do some research about Macbeth, and the elements inside it. The most fruitful research I collected concerns the fact that Macbeth is beheaded in the play. Yeah…I sort of love beheadings (…and other things. But that is a whooooole different post!)
During 11th century and much later afterwards, beheading was considered a noble method of executing someone. It was also considered less dishonourable compared to a public hanging (beheadings were public, too, but you know…much nobler). Therefore, it is no surprise that only kings and queens and noblemen were beheaded. The common folk was hanged, or burned, or something else. Anyway, the reason this piece of information interested me so is that I found it strange that Macduff, who wants to viciously avenge the murder of his family, chose such an honourable and noble way to kill Macbeth. On the other hand, beheading is a very bloody way to slaughter a body, as a sudden gush of blood would erupt from the neck of the body. Although I have never experienced it myself, beheading is very painful, and is rarely conducted quickly and swiftly (might take a few chops to separate one from the other), which is why Macduff might have chosen to do it this way. But then this is strange, again, as at that time beheadings were considered noble because people believed they were the least painful, as the subject died in seconds. (But wait, there is this whole brain-is-conscious-7-seconds-after-beheading theory, where witnesses claimed they saw the head blink several times.) Overall, I am very inquisitive about this case.
Another bit of information that I connected to Macbeth’s death (I warned you I loved beheadings) is that Charles I was the only king of England to be beheaded. You are thinking “Who is he and what has he got to do with Macbeth?” Well…. Shakespeare wrote the play to please the new king of England, Scotland, and Wales — James I, who was named heir by Elizabeth I, and after she died he took the throne. You are still thinking the same thing, except now about James. Well….James loved all things Scottish, but did not love this play, written especially for him by Shakespeare. Ah! You are still thinking horrible things about me. Well….James’s son is Charles — the only king to be beheaded, and Macbeth was beheaded. HA! I find this super interesting, agree or not, and I believe the weird sisters punished James for not liking the play and writing horrible essays about them, by killing off his son. Brilliant.
Apart from the humour-filled stories of beheading that consumed this post from head to toe (this is totally intended!), I need to add that I enjoyed Macbeth immensely, and wish to read A Midsummer Night’s Dream as my next Shakespeare play.