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Macbeth


MACBETH, Thane of Glamis and Cawdor, a general in the King's army - Macbeth is a basically good man who is troubled by his conscience and loyalty though at the same time ambitious and murderous. He is led to evil initially by the witches' predictions and then by his wife's goading, which he succumbs to because he loves her so. His obsession over the kingship shows a certain kind of egotism.

History states that Macbeth slew Duncan at Bothgowan, near Elgin, in 1039, and not as Shakespeare says, at his castle of Inverness: the attack was made because Duncan had usurped the throne, to which Macbeth had the better claim. As a king Macbeth proved a very just and equitable prince, but the partisans of Malcolm got head, and succeeded in deposing Macbeth, who was slain in 1056, at Lumphanan. He was thane of Cromarty [Glamis], and afterwards of Moray [Cawdor].- Lardner: Cabinet Cyclopoedia

Moved by his own burning ambition, and that of unscrupulous wife, Macbeth murders Duncan, King of Scotland, and seizes the crown, thereby fulfilling a witches' prophecy. He and his wife embark on a reign of terror, murdering former friends and striking down families of their adversaries.

As director-actor, Douglas Campbell explains: "contradictions, seeming truths, concealed meanings and double meanings...we are in a world in which appearances cannot be trusted." The entire play is built on a paradox - "nothing is but what is not." Encyclopedia Britannica, 1965.

There seems to be within every human being a lust for violence, but something sublime remains in Macbeth. The capacity for good and evil in the same human sums up Shakespeare's message. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1965

He is a man who is loyal to his country and wife. It turns out that he can be more loyal to his wife because he betrays the king and murders him. Macbeth gains power of Thane of Cawdor and lets it go to his head. He continually is killing to keep his power after he becomes king.

The Scotish surname McBETH is a personal name which has been used as a surname. The name was common in Scotland between the 11th and 14th centuries. The personal name is derived from the Gaelic "Macc bethad" and literally signifies "son of life".

The most notable bearer of the name was MacBeth (1005 - 1057) who was King of Scotland from 1040. He was commander for Duncan I, whom he defeated and slew, thereby becoming king. He was later defeated by Malcom, the son of Duncan. MacBeth was originally from Moray and records show that he used his power for the good of his country. He was a protector of the monks and the first Scotish king whose name appears in ecclestical records as a benefator of the Church. MacBeth's life was used as the basis of one of William Shakespeare's greatest dramas and he is generally remembered as a weak and irresolute man, although historical records disagree with this view.

Blazon of Arms: Gules, a dexter hand issuing from the base, holding on the point of a sword in pale proper, a dragon reguardant or, all within a bordure of the last.

Translation: A dragon was believed to possess a keen sense of sight and represents the most Valiant Deffender of Treasure.

Crest: A serpent's head couped proper.

Motto: Conjuncta virtuti fortuna.
Translation: Fortune joined to bravery.


Clan Macbeth's supposed ancestor is MacBeth (1005-1057), Mormaer (High Steward) of Moray, whose mother was said to have been a daughter of King Kenneth II. He married Gruoch, daughter of King Kenneth III. Under the ancient law of the Scots he had as much claim to the throne of Scotland as King Duncan I, against whom he rebelled, and whom he defeated and slayed in battle in 1040. Macbeth was proclaimed king, and Scotland prospered during his reign.

Macbeth is a man who is loyal to his country and wife. It turns out that he can be more loyal to his wife because he betrays the king and murders him. Macbeth gains power of Thane of Cawdor and lets it go to his head. He continually is killing to keep his power after he becomes king.



HISTORY OF MACBETH
FROM 1005-1034
- Kenneth III was killed in 1005
- Malcolm became king and made peace with Sigurd of the Orkneys.
- Malcolm gave Sigurd his youngest daughter for marriage.
- In 1006 Malcolm invaded Northumbria, but failed.
- Thorfinn was born of the marriage of Sigurd and Malcolm's daughter.
- Svend was proclaimed king of England in 1013.
- He died almost at once.
- Svend's son Cnut married Aethelred's widow Emma of Normandy and became king of England.
- In 1014, Thorfinn succeeded his father in the mainland territories of Orkney. This gave his grandfather, Malcolm II, a certain hold on the lost northern provinces.
- Malcolm’s main wars were with England, but had several small confrontations with the Danes.
- Cnut rose to be the most powerful sovereign in England.
- Cnut saved Henry II, who was then Emperor.
- Cnut joined Sweden, and Norway with Denmark and then with England in 1017.
- Cnut claimed some kind of suzerainty over Ireland and Whales.
- Ireland became angry and defeated him.
- In 1018, Malcolm challenged the new power.
- Malcolm II invaded England and at Carham on the Tweed defeated Eadulf Cudel.
- Almost everyone from Tees to Tweed with their gentry perished.
- Northern England was thrown into confusion and the Bishop of Durham died of shock.
- In 1031, Indulf invaded Malcolm II's dominions. It took several years to bring peace.
- Cnut became overlord of Scotland.
- Tweed-dale, Teviotdale, Ettrick, Merse, and Lothian were all added to Scotland under Malcolm II.
- Malcolm II introduced the Britons to accept as king another prince of the line of Kenneth MacAlpin - his grandson Duncan.
- Malcolm II had a brother or third cousin, (it is not sure who he was in history), Boite.
Boite whose son or grandson (still not very clear) was killed by the King in 1033.
- Boite may have had a special claim to the throne.
- After Boite died, Malcolm II took steps to secure the succession of his grandson Duncan I. This also gave Malcolm II's other grandson, Thorfinn, a notion of a claim of kingship.
- Duncan I became king of Strathclyde.
- Malcolm II died in 1034.
- Duncan I became King of Scots.



Lady Macbeth


"Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One: two: why, then 'tis time to do't. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?" --- Act V, Scene 1, Lines 34-39






LADY MACBETH, his wife - Lady Macbeth is a good wife who loves her husband. She is also ambitious but lacks the morals of her husband. To achieve her ambition, she rids of herself of any kindness that might stand in the way. However, she runs out of energy to supress her conscience and kills herself.

Lady Macbeth is the wife of Macbeth. Ambition is her sin, and to gain the object of her ambition she hesitates at nothing. Her masterful mind sways the weaker Macbeth to "the mood of what she liked or loathed." She is a Mede'a, or Catherine de' Medici, or Cæsar Borgia in female form. (Shakespeare Macbeth.)

    The real name of Lady Macbeth was Graoch, and instead of being urged to the murder of Duncan through ambition, she was goaded by deadly injuries. She was, in fact, the granddaughter of Kenneth IV., killed in 1003, fighting against Malcolm II.- Lardner: Cabinet Cyclopoedia, vol. i. 17, etc.

Lady Macbeth begins the story with a mean heart, she wants power, she is the driving force behind Macbeth at the beginning of the play, ends up going insane by the end of the story and committing suicide.

Lady Macbeth Exposed

If anyone is ambitious it is Lady Macbeth. Too weak to get what she wants she manipulates her man into doing it for her. She also misunderstands gender roles, hasn't a clue about the honour code of the warrior (ever seen boys fighting? ever seen girls fighting - scratching, biting, kicking violently ...no honour code). She can't even kill her king / father herself as Clytemnaestra kills her king / husband Agamemnon (in his bath when she has thrown a net over him: see Aeschylus - Oresteia).

She invokes the spirits to make her uncaring like a warrior (ignoring the warrior virtues), hiding her wickedness (paradoxically) behind her true weak and feeble woman role. As Macduff says when the murder is discovered "my words are not for your ears. No woman could survive the telling." And though it seems he is wrong at the time, his words prove true as Lady Macbeth disintegrates psychologically.

Macbeth ambitious? No, his fault was allowing his woman to persuade him away from the warrior code of loyalty and honesty.

What a parable of feminism in our time!!


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© Margaret Stewart-Zimmerman
May 22, 1998 - 2010