Understanding Macbeth: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

By Faith Nostbakken | Go to book overview

Introduction

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's most well-known tragedies. The frequency with which it is read in the classroom and performed on stage attests to its popularity and perhaps its accessibility. An unusually short play, it follows the simple plot of Macbeth's rise and fall through a series of murders beginning with that of Duncan, King of Scotland, and ending with Macbeth's. It is a drama charged with energy generated by the intensity of Macbeth's ambition and played out in conflicts at personal, political, and cosmic levels. The main plot follows a pattern typical of Shakespearean tragedy: A figure of great magnitude falls to destruction, but a promise of social order restores harmony in the last scene. Macbeth also deviates from convention, however, for the central character is somehow both hero and villain, a combination that unsettles the tragic tone and that continues to challenge readers, audiences, and performers who are drawn to the play as much for its ambiguity as for its energy and simplicity.

In spite of its enduring appeal in the twentieth century, Macbeth is also one of Shakespeare's most topical plays, including many direct and indirect references to contemporary issues in the early seventeenth century. In 1603 Scotland's King James VI succeeded Elizabeth I as England's new monarch. His ascent to the throne sparked renewed interest in the rights and duties of kingship, as

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Understanding Macbeth: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Greenwood Press "Literature in Context" Series ii
  • Title Page - Understanding Macbeth a Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents iii
  • Publication/Copyright Page iv
  • Dedication Page vii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Note xviii
  • 1 - Dramatic Analysis 1
  • Suggested Readings 12
  • Conclusion 20
  • Suggested Readings 22
  • Note 22
  • 2 - Historical Context 23
  • Suggested Readings 54
  • Conclusion 80
  • Suggested Readings 83
  • Conclusion 111
  • Suggested Readings 114
  • 3 - Performance and Interpretation 115
  • Conclusion 123
  • Suggested Readings 125
  • Note 140
  • Conclusion 150
  • Suggested Readings 152
  • Conclusion 159
  • Suggested Readings 162
  • Note 163
  • 4 - Contemporary Applications 165
  • Suggested Readings 184
  • Conclusion 191
  • Conclusion 205
  • Suggested Readings 207
  • Conclusion 216
  • Conclusion 224
  • Suggested Readings 227
  • Index 229
  • About the Author 237
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