Macbeth: treachery, murder, mud and blood

Seems like they did an excellent job of bring life to Macbeth!

A Glass Half Full

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble…”

“Out damned spot! Out, I say!”

“Is this a dagger which I see before me…?”

They’re lines etched into our memories from school days.  Penned in 1606, today in the right hands – or voices – they bring the bloody story of Macbeth to life on stage in a way the written word cannot.

I’ve only seen Macbeth performed twice. The first – in the 1970s when I was a schoolgirl – was a rather bizarre interpretation in which the setting was not Scotland but medieval Japan, and the warriors were samurai.  After a bit of research I assume that this stage production was based on the 1959 film adaptation Throne of Blood, by the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.  It certainly left an indelible impression on me and my schoolmates.

So it was with some trepidation that I set…

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Macbeth Reading Notes-ACT 1

Mainly because BlogSpot is a thing of horror and a pain to work with, I will be posting my “Active Reading Notes” from Macbeth here. And a quick disclaimer before I begin. I loathe Reading Notes. I read too quickly to slow down and write what I think of the chapter in terms of exposition, theme, syntax, etc.. Mostly because when I read I feel. Which is hard to transcend into words that I have to turn in for credit. So if you feel any  disdain while reading my post, I am doing my best to keep my own personal frustration of taking notes out of my notes. Capiche?

Macbeth ACT 1:


Even before I open a text, I love pondering about the author. Sometimes I temporarily stalk them on social media, I become an expert on their Wikipedia Article, or in Shakespeare’s case (because he is dead and most of what we think we know of him is most likely conjecture) I read the essays. For example in my Barnes and Noble Shakespeare copy of “Macbeth” there are exactly 42 pages of text outlining everything from William Shakespeare’s history to a brief introduction into Victorian English (think King James Bible). The first essay and in my opinion the most important is an “Introduction to Macbeth” by Jesse M. Lander. He goes straight into it and begins to explain Macbeth’s morally compromised values that make him a tragic (villain) hero, the only of Shakespeare’s Tragedies. And if you are reading “Macbeth” or even Shakespeare for the first time, I implore you to put down the computer/laptop/tablet/cellphone and grab your copy and read some introductions. It will give you a whole new insight into the complexities of “Macbeth”. And while you are there just for fun look at this and why “Macbeth” is often called the “Scottish Play“.

ACT 1 (Characters):

The Witches: Absolutely not to be trusted. Yes they tell the truth but something tells me that there is more to them than meets the eye. Although they do provide an excellent foil in which to view Macbeth and his character. Did I mention they are also great at foreshadowing? In the original text I believe they are referred to as the Weird Sisters.

Duncan: The current King of Scotland and has two sons who will inherit the throne, Malcolm and Donalbain. Remember the sons they will become of the utmost importance as the play progresses.

Macbeth: The “hero” of our play. At the beginning simply a noble and brave warrior Thane of Glamis, then Thane of Cawdor, and “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly.” the future King of Scotland. Although notice here Macbeth’s inability to call the deed for what it is, murder. He is more complex than we initially see or at least are led on. But subtle clues in his characterization show the true flaws and foils in which to view his character. Remember he is also easily influenced by…

Lady Macbeth: “Sailor’s wife with chestnuts in her lap.” I’ll let you interpret that as you may, but do not underestimate Lady Macbeth. She is incredibly cunning and will do what she can to obtain her ends, which in this case is have her husband become King of Scotland, and effectively herself be the Queen. And when you think about it, it is really Lady Macbeth which accounts for Duncan’s murder.

Banquo: I am really hesitant to write anything on Banquo and his character, because frankly the first time I read and worked through “Macbeth” I sort of left him out of the action and deemed him insignificant. So I’ll let you make your own decisions and guesses as to his character.

I will typically include quotes and their significance at the end of the Notes, but this time I want to do a series of quotes throughout the play at key moments so we can see how foreshadowing works in a play through Shakespeare’s word choice and diction.


10 Famous Quotations That Are Literary Misquotations

Interesting Literature

As Hesketh Pearson put it, ‘Misquotations are the only quotations that are never misquoted.’ To see if he’s right, we’ve compiled a Top Ten list containing what we think are the commonest expressions in English which are misquotations of their original literary idioms. How many of these did you know started out as something different? And do you think that they are still ‘misquotations’, if the phrases go on to gain a new life of their own?

Oh, and have we left off any good examples of literary misquotation?

1. Me Tarzan, you Jane. This line doesn’t appear in any of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original books, nor in the films; it probably arose as a compacting of the dialogue exchange between Tarzan and Jane in the 1932 film Tarzan the Ape Man.

2. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. This translation from Dante’s Inferno – the words are inscribed…

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April 17, 1928

I have never been so confused while reading a book.

Part 1, of the “Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner focuses on the point of view of Benjy. Benjy who is the mentally challenged and youngest member of the family, is considered a source of grief and shame for the Compson’s.

What is unique about Benjy’s point of view are his unbiased opinions of the other characters, and his stream of thought.

But walking away from this chapter, I need a large glass of hot tea, and a therapist, because the Compson family has problems!


(Before I begin Faulkner’s estate please don’t sue me!)

The written word is crazy. It can make us laugh one minute and cry profusely the next. That what I’m studying here. Not studying as much as trying to understand.  Over the next three months before my high school graduation, I am going to be working my way through the AP reading list and at the same time trying to read as many of William Faulkner’s works as possible.

This isn’t an alternate form of Sparknotes, Cliffnotes, or whatever else the internet may cook up. Rather it is a way to challenge myself, and stay accountable for my reading, working through arguably one of the best writers of the 20th century, and viciously attack the AP Reading List before the exam in three months. Get ready for the random.

So…lets get started