Macbeth, the Murderers, and the Diminishing Parallel
This article discusses in particular the scene in which Macbeth hires the murderers to kill Banquo, and argues that the purpose of this scene is to shape the reader's view of Macbeth as a character and the play as a whole. Hartwig explains that Macbeth’s murder of Duncan had no real purpose except ambition; she thinks that this affected Macbeth’s murder order for Banquo in that he wanted it to have a larger and more meaningful purpose, which is why he comes up with lies against Banquo to tell the hired murderers. Hartwig also argues that the shallowness and indifference of the murderers highlights the complex feeling, passion, and morals going on within Macbeth, which helps readers to better understand and sympathize with his character.
In our edition intended for high school seniors or college freshman, I think that this article would be fairly well placed. While it does mention other Shakespeare plays such as Othello and Hamlet, it primarily discusses issues within the play itself. I think that our audience could find this article interesting, and I believe it could help them understand the play at a deeper, but still understandable, level. I also think that this article could be a good introduction to the critical conversation going on around Macbeth in the academic world.
Lady Macbeth’s Indispensable Child
In this article, Rosenburg brings to light the fact that Lady Macbeth has “given suck,” which means that she has had at least one child, and suggests that, despite actual history, the father of this child in Macbeth is Macbeth himself. He argues that this child shapes the Macbeths’ motives throughout the play. Macbeth’s need to be assured that Banquo’s children will not take the throne is because Macbeth wants his own son to be king. Rosenburg argues that most of Macbeth’s murderous actions are not mostly for himself, but for his child.
I think that this article would definitely be appropriate for our high school senior/college freshman audience. I myself found this article to be extremely interesting and mind-opening, and I believe that our audience would feel similarly. The article discusses only issues within the play itself that will help our audience read the play from an entirely different view.
Macbeth the Philosopher: Rethinking Context
This article looks at different methods of examining texts and argues against a historicist approach, insisting that not all ancient works have to be run through the lens of cultural and socioeconomic factors of the time; or rather, that works themselves shouldn’t be solely defined by the times in which they were written, but rather that the text itself should be examined and be the focus of evaluation. The first half of the essay addresses this, while the second half is the relevant section that analyzes Macbeth in just the text alone, sans historical context and background.
The second half of the article raises questions often asked concerning the seemingly contradictory and inconstant nature of Macbeth throughout the play, and includes a deconstruction of his character. This is achieved without the aid or reference back to historical contexts, and there is more analysis rather than quoting, permitting a reader unversed in certain texts and precepts to follow along nonetheless. As our edition will be oriented towards college freshmen, this article should both provide clarification and an example of how to analyze a text.
Macbeth’s Rites of Violence
This article is concerned with violence in Macbeth and the various purposes it serves. Cohen argues that violence is both necessary to the political state while also indicating corruption. He examines the use of weapons in Macbeth, the meaning of blood, and violence as a part of the culture of Macbeth. He examines violence as a feature of manhood and says that Macbeth is a character for who “is unable to release hold of the implications of his deeds, and instead he embraces and scrutinizes his own consciousness. Macbeth is exceptional in this regard. The world he inhabits possesses for all but Macbeth a simple moral clarity (Cohen 6).” Cohen’s focuses on this point--Macbeth’s moral complexity--for most of the article. He finishes with the consequences of this violence on Macbeth.
This article might be interesting in a high school/undergraduate edition of Macbeth. It focuses on a major theme in Macbeth and is rather easy to understand. However, the author has some strange digressions--on blood and on violence--that distract from the main point of the article. Despite these digressions, I think that it would be a valuable addition to our edition.
Bristol, Michael. “Macbeth the Philosopher: Rethinking Context.” New Literary History 42.2
(2011): 641-662. Project MUSE. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.4
Cohen, Derek. “Macbeth’s Rites of Violence.” Shakespeare in Southern Africa 23.
(2011):55-63. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.
Hartwig, Joan. “Macbeth, the Murderers, and the Diminishing Parallel.” The Yearbook of
English Studies 3 (1973): 39-43. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
Rosenburg, Marvin. “Lady Macbeth’s Indispensable Child.” Educational Theatre Journal 26.1
(1974): 14-19. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.