Act four.A cavern. Cauldron. World of the witches.‘Signs’ of fallen place. Audience would be horrified, yet perversely fascinated? King James intrigued by witchcraft too? Contamination continues. A sense of conspiracy and purposeful cruelty. Sadism. Language degraded. Audience under no illusions about the evil of the witches. Irony that Macbeth thinks he can ‘consult’ them even demand they help him.‘Something wicked this way comes.’ The announcement of Macbeth’s approach. Irony as spoken by witches. Heavy irony as they find their’ creation’ wicked! (ie Macbeth) He is their creature, their ‘puppet’.Macbeth wants an answer. Vehement. Outspoken. Demand brings ‘ masters’ – a terrifying realisation as it reveals witches are subservient to another. Tools. Who controls the witches? How can Macbeth believe he can demand things of Lucifer’s apprentices?Macbeth! beware Macduff. Witches interfere with the world. Contaminating influence. But for a brief moment, ironic relief. ‘Then live Macduff. What need I fear of thee?’We feel Macbeth is going to behave peacefully for a moment?
‘Great Birnam wood to high Dunisane.’ Riddles unsettle and give false confidence. Tampering again. Seems a literal impossibility. Surreal vision planted to unsettle?I will be satisfied. Arrogance but perverse defiance and courage. Sees Banquo’s ghost. His lineage. Banquo points. Revenge part of the moral darkeness of the play?Destabilises Macbeth…Banquo smiles upon Macbeth. . And points to them for his. Lineage insults all that Macbeth tried to achieve and his murderous attempts at control.Only Macbeth sees the witches in this scene. Why did Banquo view them too? Why is he caught up in the destiny of Macbeth? Complex connections of the play. Terrible intimacies.Lennox brings news of Macduff’s fleeing. The rapidity of the plot. Coincidence very strong. The sense of inevitability. Inescapably of fate. Macbeth (the play) mimics the impatience of the protagonist perhaps?Reckless. The firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand. Strange change. An act of savagery pointless. He is drenched in bloodthirsty ideas and cannot escape. Always relies on henchmen now. Can’t literally look Isolated. A Tyrant. No consultation. A mind preying on itself and others? The rapidity of play’s momentum. The coincidence of scenes. Inescapability of fate.Next Scene:Ross attempts to placate Lady Macduff. Her husband’s escape a problem in the drama. He abandons family to their fate. No sense of consequence.Our fears do make us traitors. Recognition of consequence and lack of respect. Lady Macduff admirable, yet expendable. Even by Macduff himself?Ross. Part of patriarchal structure. Sees wisdom in Macduff. Wife different ‘…. to leave his babes.’Challenging character. Gives voice to her disappointment.All is the fear and nothing is the love. The problem with the play. Selfishness. Lack of moral compass?Very astute insight. We admire the clear-sighted courage of Lady Macduff. Ross supports his friend and leaves Lady Macduff to her fate. Though not intentionally. He says he will be ‘back’ yet he returns to find the family slaughtered. Means the restabilization of the world at the end when Macbeth is killed by Macduff is not satisfying. Neither Macduff nor Malcolm wholly admirable. We may even believe that one flawed human has been exchanged for another?Maybe the reason Ross leaves is due to his attraction to Lady Macduff. Thus her attractiveness goes against her. Ross doesn’t want to ruin his standing with Lady Macduff.It would be my disgrace and your discomfort.Eloquent. But disassociated from the reality of Macbeth and his volatility. He can’t kill Macduff so he murders his wife and family. No practical reason. Motivation is feeling that Macduff slighted him by fleeing. But of course, murder generates a reason for the slaughter.The conversation between mother and son. Indicates fears around the absent father. Lady Macduff states the father is a traitor. She feels betrayed. Banter interrupted by a messenger warning her of impending fate.Be found not here.Heaven preserve you! Man of lower rank who risks his own life to warn Lady Macduff.Lady Macduff. ‘Whither should I fly? I have done no harm.’No recognition of Macbeth capacity for meaningless violence. Predatory.But recognises reversals in the world. Think of ‘fair is foul’ paradox.Where to do harm is often laudable. World of transgressionSon dies defending his father’s name. ‘ Where is your husband?’ Indeed. A problem for the audience too.The bravery of son costs him his life. The irony of his absent father. Disturbing scene. As if the world is drained of innocence.Malcolm and MacduffSafe. Reciting evils of Macbeth. Their own desertion not mentioned. New widows howl. Dramatic ironyas we know he has become a widower. But news hasn’t filtered to him.More irony. He hath not touched you yet. Malcolm does not know about Macduff and his family.I am not treacherous. Again audience knows the connection to his son’s last words…Malcolm quick to damn not only Macbeth but also the corruption of power itself. .’A good and virtuous nature may recoil in an imperial charge.’Malcolm distrustful. Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell. Refers to Lucifer and fall from God’s left hand?Interesting that Malcolm confronts Macduff with our own concern about his conduct.Why in that rawness left you, wife and child…Macduff retaliated with passion though avoids directly grappling with the question.Malcolm then sets a trap and lists his own misdeeds. ‘But there’s no bottom, none, in my voluptuousness. ‘ Cites his ‘cistern of lust.’Testing the strength of Macduff’s character.Fit to govern!No, not to live. O nation miserable! Macduff’s outburst proves his loyalty to Scotland.Malcolm congratulates him on reassuring him. Wiped the black scruples…my first false speaking was this upon myself…Macduff is stunnedEdward a noble, healing king. Justifies their alliance with England.Ross appears. Seeming unrecognizable. Stands Scotland where it did?Ross suggests terrible situation. It cannot be called our mother, but our grave…..Ross evasive about Macduff’s family. No, they were well at peace when I did leave ’em.’‘ But I have words that would behold out in the desert air…’Desolation.Ross summarizes. Your wife and babes savagely slaughtered.’Macduff emotional collapse and inconsolable grief revealed by the manner of his reaction.My children too?Pathos is monumental.Keeps returning to their deaths. As if he cannot countenance what has occurred. Gives audience awareness of his genuine affection for his family and gives direct representation to his loss and desolation.Malcolm reaction callous. Opportunistic?Let’s make us medicines our great revenge.. Suggests he will use the grief of Macduff to defeat Macbeth.He has no children. All my pretty ones? Macduff.Ambiguity as to who the pronoun ‘he’ belongs to. Is it Malcolm? So talking to himself to explain the apparent insensitivity. Or he is referring to Macbeth and spectre of the dead baby belonging to Ithe Macbeth couple. Desperately trying to explain the cruelty of the murder. Utterly other.Dispute it like a man. Malcolm chastising Macduff.. suggests there Is a link to Macbeth in their value system. Even using the notion of masculinity to motivate Macduff. Contaminating link to Macbeth and his wife.Courage and grandeur of the reply. Restorative. Redefining manliness in the play. Linking to humanity. Compassion. ‘But I must also feel it like a man.‘ Restoration of moral value and emotion.Sinful Macduff. They were all struck for thee. Accepts responsibility.O, I could play the woman with mine eyes. Grief and guilt combined?Promises to defeat Macbeth. ‘Front to front.’ Bravery. Wants to see him die. Extract revenge..Act five.Begins different characters and scene. Domestic. Scotland. A healer who cannot cure Lady Macbeth.‘A great perturbation in nature’ suggests immensity of damage to mental health.She has light by her continually. Revisits death of Duncan. Nightmare.Yet here’s a spot. …out, damned spot…who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him? Secrets released. Privacy is gone. Lady Macbeth is isolated. Exposed. Revealing her sins.All the perfumed of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Revelation. Mental collapse.Doctor and Gentlewoman know they are in a dangerous situation. Foul whisp’rings are abroad. ‘Suspect she may commit suicide.Remove…all annoyance. Speaking euphemistically.I think, but dare not speak. The overwhelming atmosphere of suspicion and dreadful secrecy.Everyone against Macbeth. At Dunsinane. Lesser hate him. No one allied to him except through fear or money.Scene three.Macbeth swagger. He believes immune because of witches. Selective focus.Ten thousand against him.Upset about his wife. But clearly distant.Malcolm orders camouflage of wood. Starts to grow tense in the denouement. Dramatic irony. We know what Dunsinane means.The queen is dead. How is this spoken? Finality? Regret. Sneer. Relief. Flat? Resigned?Then the tomorrow and tomorrow speech.It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Emptiness and futility of everything. Macbeth has ruined his marriage, country and life through his pride and greed. Hubris.As soon as acknowledged his failure, news of wood arrives. Escalation. The wood began to move…a moving grove. Impossible things take place. Witches’ mockery…‘They have tied me to a stake. I cannot fly, but bear-like I must fight the course.’ Used in The Ghost Road by Pat Barker. A sense of doom. Entrapment. Fate. Courage even though audience wants him destroyed. Relief of impending end.Kills young Siward. My name’s Macbeth. Disturbance. Resonates with evil.Macbeth finds Macduff ‘untimely ripped’ from his mother’s womb. Doom. Macbeth doesn’t want to face Macduff anyway because of the suffering he inflicted on him….glimmering of morality? Or mental manipulation?This dead butcher and his fiend-like queen.Is this a justified summary of the play and of the protagonists? Surely the grandeur of the tomorrow speech and the cold-hearted natures of both Malcolm and Macduff compromises the relief we may feel at Macbeth’s death? Flaws of the survivors make the play uneasy in its return to stability. How will Banquo’s children become rulers? Will Malcolm make foolish mistakes or is he less trusting than his father?
The Woman in Black
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