Macbeth–Act IV

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So, rather than fix his problems by, oh, not killing more people, Macbeth goes to the witches for more knowledge about the future. They conjure three apparitions for him:

  1. A disembodied head with a helmet–Look out, MacDuff is going for you, bro.
  2. A child covered in blood (symbol of all the innocent people he’s killed?)–Don’t worry, no man that was born of a woman is going to hurt you. You’d think that’d be comforting.
  3. Child, not bloody, crowned–When this entire forest is raised, that’s when you’ll be defeated.

By all means, it seems like Macbeth is going to be okay, all in all. But then why is the next apparition show eight kings from Banquo’s line? Well, I know the outcome, but it hasn’t been revealed just yet.

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I realized today why Macbeth begins to come down this path–he’s following that which is unnatural. He’s led by the witches and his wife (who has a propensity for things unnatural, like wanting to be more manly and over-ruling her husband) in this entire affair–which is displacing the natural line of kings. I was saying that the witches were supernatural before, but I’m going to take it back, because they aren’t above the natural order of things, but they use the base and disgusting parts of nature to contort nature herself. They’re unnatural. There isn’t really a supernatural thing in the whole play.

Also, Macbeth, I think you made a really bad move killing Macduff’s wife and kids. All you’re going to do there is spurn a load of revenge. And let’s not forget your inability to kill Fleance, who watched his father get murdered.

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Macbeth–Act III

Sorry to make the hiatus so long! I was going to try and cram the rest of the play in the weekend, but found I was to busy to do so, so I figured I’d start on Wednesday and finish out the week like normal.

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Ahh, guilt. How wonderfully Shakespeare illustrates the nature that guilt weighs upon our conscious in times of grave sin. Macbeth is now dragging himself into a mire–to relieve feeling guilty, he hires the murder of Banquo, in order to stop the witches prophecy (uhh, wait, the same prophecy that spurred him into killing the king? That sounds a little discordant…), but he fails at the escape of Fleance. He wants to relieve his guilt of spilling blood by spilling more blood, which seems to be the nature of sin–to correct sin with more sin. “Blood will have blood” (III.iv.121).

A quick note about the prophecy–Hecate belittles the sisters in telling Macbeth and Banquo the future–but it seems if they had not intruded and let this “fate” be known, it would not have happened. The supernatural enters the world, allows men to know the future, but it’s only a future that exists because of that supernatural intrusion. If that sounds confusing, I think it’s because I’m a little confused about the role of the supernatural in this play (other than it is a bane on the lives of everyone here, yet it sometimes reveals the true nature of things, such as Banquo’s ghost revealing Macbeth’s guilt).

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One last thing: Macbeth hires two murderers. Where the heck does this third come from? He says “Macbeth,” but we haven’t seen that interaction. What is Shakespeare showing us in not showing us the hire of this third murderer? He’s also the one who points out the error of striking out the light and allowing Fleance to escape. Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a mole-hill, but murderer number three, I’ve got my eye on you…

Macbeth–Act II

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“I have done the deed” (II.ii.14). Woo, intense is the act that ends with a body count of three.

Macbeth’s monologue in the first act interests me, insofar as it deals with trusting in the sense of sight. “or art thou but/A dagger of the mid, a false creation”(II.i.38-39) and then, “Mine eyes are made the fools o’ th’ other senses,/Or else worth all the rest” I see thee still”(II.i.44-45). Which contrasts with the next scene, “Didst thou not hear the noise?”(II.ii.14). And Macbeth hears two prayers, a blessing from God on his deed and a mere, “Amen.” Amen, the word means “it is so” or it is a simple “yes.” Smells like the deed is done…

Musings on the trustworthiness of the senses. I find in tragedies, I don’t know what or who to trust. And that may be the point.

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Now, for the last scene, Rosse’s conversation with the old man–addressed as “Father,” so I am assuming he’s a priest, because I like to assume things–regarding the internal nature of man’s actions correlating with the outer nature of the heavens. I made a point of this in The Tempest, that storms in Shakespeare plays have a tendency to be symbolic of workings of the character’s soul or the state of souls in the commonweal. (I may not have actually said this, but I think I meant to if I didn’t.) If the heavens are representing an individual, who? Macbeth? Duncan? Banquo? Lady Macbeth? Or is it representing what is about to happen to the entire foundation of the Scottish Monarchy? Take your pick, send me a message.

 

Julius Caesar–Act III

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So, given that I like rules and guidelines, isn’t Shakespeare breaking a few here? Aren’t you supposed to kill off the title character at the end of the play, when tragedy befalls them? This is what I’ve been alluding (let’s not be coy, I’ve been saying it pretty bluntly) to when I keep saying that the spirit of Caesar lives. The tragedy of the play is not Julius’ tragedy–but I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say it’s Brutus’ fall that we are being called to witness.

And what is it that stirs the people to see Caesar as a loving king and not a tyrant? His will. What Caesar wills. Hmm…what did Caesar say when Decius implored him to come to the Senate? “The cause is in my will, I will not come,/That is enough to satisfy the Senate” (II.ii.71-72). Oh, and right before he died, “Hence! Wilt thou lift up Olympus?” (III.i.74). His will (as in, last will) is for the people. In all the things he wills, in his constancy, he embodies the will of the people in one form. The exact will that the conspirators were trying to uphold. They have failed Rome in trying to save it.

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That’s it for today, kids. Until tomorrow.

King Lear–Act V

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My comments today are brief.

First, to look at a monologue. It’s very revealing about Cordelia’s effect on Lear’s life and happiness. (It’s also said to reflect the Catholic martyrs in Protestant England, but I’ll leave that to actual scholars, and not amateurs like myself.)

Come, let’s away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i’ the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out;
And take upon’s the mystery of things,
As if we were God’s spies: and we’ll wear out,
In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon. (V.iii.8-19)

I’m very fond of this monologue. I just want to, A. bring it back to attention and B. Show how, even in prison, Lear has become more joyful. With Cordelia’s death, he literally dies of a broken heart.

The guilty and greedy die (Regan, Goneril, Edmund), as do the innocent. Also, Edmund’s repentance…I’m not sure how I feel about it. Or what I think, for that matter.

I know I haven’t been keen on the Sunday evening Wrap-ups (primarily because every time I start them, I’ve said what I have to say) but I am going to try for this Sunday, because I have so much to think about over the next few days.

King John–Acts III & IV

My apologies, I have been rigorously working on getting my life together and make myself a career in something a little more academic than bar-tending. Prayers, if you can!

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So, Act III satisfied my “the war ended to quickly” proposition, thanks to the entrance of a bishop. Rome visits, excommunicates, and causes a huge complication of which fundamental religious honoring to take–the alliance between England and France that has at it’s foundation the Church’s Sacrament of marriage VERSUS the authority figure from the Vatican directly telling King Phillip that he’ll be excommunicated with King John. Poor Blanch.

So, we have these two poles that the audience gets to swing between: France and England. France’s leader concerns himself primarily with matters of the soul above the matters of state, both in his breaking of the alliance and with Louis’ trust in the bishop’s prophecy that England will fall. Ol’ John is excommunicated for putting his own matters of state above the Church and he has no concern for his soul, so long as he has looked out for his body and reputation (the assigning of Arthur’s assassination).

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Act IV reads like a tragedy–the too late realization that killing an innocent kid might be a mistake. King John, on the cusp of losing his allies, states, “They burn in indignation. I repent:/There is no sure foundation set on blood;/No certain life achiev’d by others’ death (IV.ii.105-107). Arthur’s alive and let go! Then he’s actually dead. And no one saw him fall. So, obviously, King John was up to mischief, setting himself on a foundation of blood that he only too late realized was not in his best interests.

Oh, and the whole thing is taking place during late, very close to the feast day of the Ascension. I’m wondering if Blanch’s lamenting her wedding feast turning into a blood bath has more to it than meets the eye….

Richard III–Act IV

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Body count: 8

When the scene starts off, we have all the ladies gathered, none at this time know that the princes have been slain, Richard is King or that Anne is about to be made his wife. It is from a slip by Brakenbury that they learn what fate holds for them.

I find it interesting that there is not a set scene for the coronation. We merely see Richard as king–the audience misses out on the pomp and circumstance. I think this is actually quite fitting. Ceremony is the physical embodiment (in action) that expresses an idea. Graduations represent endings. Weddings represent two becoming one flesh. Coronations represent someone coming into the throne to properly guide a country. Too bad this is a country soaked in blood–it’s all too fitting there is no ceremony.

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At the end of scene two, Buckingham realizes that he’s really of nothing to Richard, and gets ready to take off.

The Literature in me wants to turn the topic to the idea of conversation at the end of this scene. Comedies tend to hold everything in conversation, tragedies tend to be the long monologue that is never conductive to conversation. Buckingham realizes his relation to the king in the king’s complete lack of conversation–he’s basically talking to himself.

With the entrance of Margaret, we have the full list of the dead–lists show an expanse of something, this one shows how much blood England’s royalty is standing in. Everyone’s crying for revenge.

The act ends on the eve of war, and that is how I leave you.

Until tomorrow.