Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

William Shakespeare: Macbeth

Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

William Shakespeare: Macbeth

Article excerpt

Kathleen E. McLuskie, William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Writers and Their Work, Horndon, Devon, Northcote House, 2009, pp. viii + 154, p/b. £12.99, ISBN: 978-0-7463-0843-1

This detailed and thorough introductory guide to Shakespeare's play will prove to be very accessible to students. Indeed, there is rich material here for scholars wanting an overview of the play in terms of various important topics, which should serve as useful starting points for future original research and, particularly, for ideas on teaching the play in the university classroom. McLuskie's book is organized thematically according to various topics, though these occasionally overlap in helpful ways, including work on performance and theatricality, print culture (including discussion of the original folio text of the play from 1623), language-based and performance-based approaches to the play, and a very good sense of both the critical and historical contexts of the play, from both the Jacobean period through to the present day. Importantly, the surviving play is treated as both a work to be seen and also as a literary text to be read and interpreted.

The book's first chapter surveys the consequence of the witches on the plot and action of the play and the text's coherence as a work of dramatic art with a particular emphasis on structure and narrative, whilst the second chapter on poetic language and action in the play expertly brings out the importance of Shakespeare's dramatic language to the artistic work. Here and elsewhere the author offers persuasive and subtle close readings of aspects of the play's stylistics, which should benefit both students and scholars. The third chapter, entitled 'Working with Ideas', analyses various politically related topics including the early modern conceptions of kingship and authority. The fourth chapter offers a detailed overview of 'The Work in History' and so revisits the First Folio and also the famous account of the play given by Simon Forman in 1611 alongside a rewarding section on contemporary politics and the play, including the possible links to the Gunpowder Plot. Owing to this contextual approach, at this moment in the book's thesis the critic introduces the related topics of religious discourses and witchcraft in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (including King James's interest in notable witch trials), the question of Shakespeare's sources, as well as more on the complex topic of kingship in early modern Europe. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.