The Royal Play of Macbeth: When, Why, and How it Was Written by Shakespeare

The Royal Play of Macbeth: When, Why, and How it Was Written by Shakespeare

The Royal Play of Macbeth: When, Why, and How it Was Written by Shakespeare

The Royal Play of Macbeth: When, Why, and How it Was Written by Shakespeare

Excerpt

Shakespeare's plays mean what they meant when he wrote them, and that is what we seek to know. To do this it helps to know what ideas were at that time in the minds of the people of England, and much effort has long been expended upon this. But it will help still more to find out what William Shakespeare was doing and thinking about when he wrote. This is more difficult, but is not at all impossible.

This method is applied here to a short but interesting period of Shakespeare's life, in the effort to find out when, why, and how the play of Macbeth was written, by looking into the minds both of its author as he wrote the play and of the audience whom he expected to see the play. Such questions are usually briefly discussed in the introduction to the play, but are worthy of more careful examination. The main conclusions reached are dependent upon many independent inferences which corroborate and strengthen each other. I have chosen to make these chapters tedious by setting forth the evidence on which the inferences are based and why I think the evidence reliable, and not by documentary footnotes but by incorporating the evidence in the text so that the reader may, if he wishes, draw his own different conclusions instead of accepting mine. The book, be it understood, can not concern itself with the more far-reaching aesthetic or imaginative appreciation of the play. The attempt here is only to build a proper foundation on which such appreciation should rest. Books which deal with the superstructure already fill many shelves of the Macbeth library and will soon fill many more. Excellent short appreciations of the play are those of Professor Thomas M. Parrott and Sir Edmund Chambers in their introductions to their editions of the play.

It is here noted that the chapter of this book entitled "The . . .

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