Friday, November 19, 2010

Feature Fridays

Today's classic is Macbeth (1606?) by Shakespeare.

One of the great Shakespearean tragedies, Macbeth is a dark and bloody drama of ambition, murder, guilt and revenge. Prompted by the prophecies of three mysterious witches and goaded by his ambitious wife, the Scottish thane Macbeth murders Duncan, King of Scotland, in order to succeed him on the throne. This foul deed soon entangles the conscience-stricken nobleman in a web of treachery, deceit and more murders that ultimately spells his doom.

Macbeth is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy, and is believed to have been written some time between 1603 and 1606 with 1607 being the very latest possible date. The earliest account of a performance of what was likely Shakespeare's play is April 1611, when Simon Forman recorded seeing such a play at the Globe Theatre. It was first published in the Folio of 1623, possibly from a prompt book for a specific performance. In the back-stage world of theater, some believe the play is "cursed" and will not mention its name aloud, referring to it instead as "The Scottish play". Over the centuries, the play has attracted the greatest actors in the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The play has been adapted to film, television, opera, novels, comic books, and other media.

You can read Macbeth for free online at Read Print.

Even if you haven't read it, you probably recognize this section with the witches' spell:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
Have you read Macbeth? What other Shakespeare tragedies have you read?

I've read Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth.

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