So I managed to read the second book from my Penguin Book-binge. Honest to god, it took me longer to read the commentary than the actual play itself. Why the frick am I reading commentary? Well, you see…
I don’t know shit about Shakespeare.
Or what all those fancy English words are supposed to mean. I am simply not a human being that can get on such a deep level of understanding and interpretation and nitpicking, so I have to get it from someone else. It is kind of like when they ask me during yoga to ‘let go of my thoughts’ or find my inner zen or whatever – listen, people, I ain’t got shit going on inside here! There is nothing, okay!
Anyway. Back to Macbeth.
What is it about then? – spoilers I guess?
Sooo basically Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are power-hungry. Macbeth murders the king to be crowned, which so far so good, but it only triggers the medieval equivalent of a security dilemma because now he really, really needs to stay on that throne, although he does not have an heir. Shit goes down, Macbeth turns absolutely bonkers, and his wife is screaming in her sleep because, well, they murdered people. And then when the other noblemen are feeling a bit uneasy about Macbeth trying to assassinate everyone, Macbeth just decides to kill some more to keep the peace and the throne. Everyone is mad, and I’d dare say that this is one of the most violent plays that Shakespeare has written. My favourite part is, hands down, the ending [SPOILER ALERT! lol] where Macbeth has, just like several thousand poor students across the globe, wrongly interpreted some fancy poem. This wrongful assessment causes him to get an ass-whopping by no other than the great Macduff. Not only is that totally justified, since Macbeth did murder his wife and child, but I just find it so freaking metal that he has the time to declare how he was ripped from his mother’s womb. Fuck mate, you were just BORN hardcore! Then a dude named Malcolm, whose father was also murdered by Macbeth, gets on the throne and his bloodline goes apparently all the way down to the King James VI of Scotland (also named James I of England later on). How wonderful!
How did you like it?
Well, I was quite challenged since English is not my first language. Shakespeare is always hard work, and Macbeth was no exception. That is why I love the commentary, and the different takes the authors had on how the different scenes could be interpreted, and it made it SO much easier to understand what the heck they were blabbering about.
Honestly, if you are dealing with Shakespeare right now in high school or A-levels or whatever – READ THE DAMN NOTES. You will get ideas in your head that you weren’t smart enough to think into existence by yourself. This is how I passed my final English exam, where I had to analyse King Lear, that crazy buffoon.
Another aspect of Macbeth I do like is the role of Lady Macbeth. Here we have a great character with screen time. Apparently, Shakespeare had so much faith in the boys that played the female roles, that he could write some more extensive female parts. We stan a great female lead! I do think that she committed suicide though, which is a weird, feminized way of opting out, but hey, all things considered – I think any person would be thrilled for the opportunity to play the lady because she is not just some bleak background-Sue or Designated Love Interest that only has to exist. She is just as bat-shit crazy as Macbeth and, taken directly from the script, is more than prepared to smash some baby skulls. Honestly, this whole play could be translated directly to a heavy metal song. Someone, call Cannibal Corpse or whatever band that has a thing for gore.
Photo by Elaine Howlin from UNSPLASH