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Macbeth [Paperback]

William Shakespeare , Jonathan Bate , Eric Rasmussen
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 14 2009 Modern Library Classics
One of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, filled with fierce, violent action, Macbeth is a human drama of ambition, desire, and guilt in a world of blood and darkness, with whispers of the supernatural.

Under the editorial supervision of Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, two of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, this Modern Library series incorporates definitive texts and authoritative notes from William Shakespeare: Complete Works. Each play includes an Introduction as well as an overview of Shakespeare’s theatrical career; commentary on past and current productions based on interviews with leading directors, actors, and designers; scene-by-scene analysis; key facts about the work; a chronology of Shakespeare’s life and times; and black-and-white illustrations.

Ideal for students, theater professionals, and general readers, these modern and accessible editions from the Royal Shakespeare Company set a new standard in Shakespearean literature for the twenty-first century.

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One of Shakespeare's greatest, but also bloodiest tragedies, was written around 1605/06. Many have seen the story of Macbeth's murder and usurpation of the legitimate Scottish King Duncan as having obvious connection to contemporary issues regarding King James I (James VI of Scotland), and the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. King James was particularly fascinated with witchcraft, so the appearance of the witches chanting "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" at the opening of the play seemed particularly topical, as was Macbeth's betrayal of Banquo, from whom James claimed direct descent.

However, the play is clearly far more than a piece of royal entertainment. It is also a fast-moving and dramatically satisfying piece of theatre. Macbeth's existential struggle between loyalty to his King and his "Vaulting ambition" is fascinating to watch, as his is struggle with Lady Macbeth, and her own terrifying refusal of her maternal role. The play shows an intensification of Shakespeare's interest in mothers and their effect upon ruling masculinity, and also contains some of the most memorable speeches in the entire canon, including Macbeth's reflections that ultimately life "is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing". --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–Each book includes a brief introduction to the play, followed by an illustrated cast of characters and a glossary of literary terms. Annotated text from the play alternates with black-and-white illustrations of selected scenes, in the style of a graphic novel. It is unclear why the editors did not make these true graphic novels throughout. The black-and-white comic art is undistinguished, and as most of it simply depicts two characters in conversation, it does little to clarify what is going on. The first two plays in particular offer marvelous possibilities for the illustrator, so the ho-hum comics are disappointing. Think about it boxes contain study questions such as, What has worried Macbeth? and boxed Literary terms give examples like, ‘Hermia...Hermia...Helena...' is...alliteration. Teacher's guides accompany the books. Those interested in a graphic-novel interpretation might want to consider Arthur Byron Cover's Macbeth (Puffin, 2005), which is illustrated in manga style and would probably appeal more to reluctant readers. These titles might be useful for teaching Shakespeare to reluctant readers, but a better choice might be a simple annotated Shakespeare such as a Sparknotes No Fear Shakespeare series (Spark), supplemented by Bruce Coville's William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1999) and William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (2003, both Penguin), which are picture-book prose adaptations, or Adam McKeown's Romeo and Juliet: Young Reader's Shakespeare (Sterling, 2004).–Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Second Series Arden Nov. 7 2013
By John
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is second series Arden and notes are not as complete or interesting as I expect to find when third series Macbeth is published.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts on Macbeth June 10 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Macbeth is the story of a general in the army of King Duncan of Scotland, who is approached by three witches, who plant the seeds of ruthless ambition in his mind, by predicting that he will be made King of Scotland.
He invites King Duncan to his castle, where encouraged by his, wife, he murders him.
He manipulates events to become King, and embarks on a reign of bloody tyranny, having all killed who stand in his way, or who he suspects may do so.
Macbeth is the story of tyranny and ambition. It is also the story of inner struggles and of Macbeth's own diseased imagination.
The primary villains of the play are the three witches. They do not simply predict, but indeed their soul aim is to sow evil and destruction wherever they can: " Fair is foul and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air."
Their motto seems to be an apt encapsulation of the dominant 21st century worldview. Indeed Orwell and Kafka where to predict a similar world where truth would be lies and lies would be truth, good would be evil and evil would be good, war would be peace and peace would be war. This twisted view of the witches is the worldview of Bolshevism and leftism today, where terrorists and dictators are lauded as 'revolutionary heroes' and those who defend against the former are vilified and reviled.
The three witches of today are academia, the media and the United Nations.
Lady Macbeth is but a pale shadow of the witches. She encourages her husband in his evil, but is destroyed by her own guilt.
She needs to call on the evil spirits to 'unsex' her and fill her with the direst cruelty, but at the end 'all the perfumes of Arabia' cannot wash away the guilt of her deeds.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, nice margin notes Oct. 10 2002
Format:Paperback
This version basically served all of my needs. For those who are reading this for a class, don't expect a Cliff-Notes, but then it doesn't leave you stranded either. The margin notes are contiguous from Chapter and Act to Chapter and Act, allowing you to read it from cover to cover or over the course of days and still have a clear understanding of the metaphors and other figurative language present in the play. The extra materials were also worth looking at. The beginning gives you a good jumping off point if this is your first dabble at Shakespeare, but has some information my teacher didn't even know about! The section at the end of the book is filled with teacher materials such as study notes, re-caps, guidlines and the like. NB: the margin translations are very specific and very helpful if you are not accustomed to reading the Bard's works.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mi favorito June 6 2001
Format:Paperback
This play is my favorite of all the Shakespeare plays I have read, which is only 5 or so, but still, I love it. I was the only person in my quasi-remedial English class that felt sorry for the guy. I wrote poems about it--it's just inspiring. My only complaint is that Macbeth slipped too easily into rancor without as much resistance as I thought he should have had, but who am I to criticise the character development of a master? ^_^ In short--I'm the kind of person who likes plays and tragedy, so that could be why I love this so much. But for anyone with the same sentiments, I reccomend that you read this--although it's probably more fun to act out with some wannabe thesbian friends.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good edition to act from Feb. 16 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
These comments are primarily about the New Penguin Shakespeare's 'Macbeth', rather than the play proper. (Classic literature has enough folks on the case without me throwing in my two-cents-worth.)
This is a good edition to act from. The book is cheap to buy, but well-made, with a good binding, print, and paper, AND the commentary is at the end, so the play's pages are clean and clear. The introduction is good, and somewhat witty. The Commentary is pretty good, too, but not as complete as I would have it. Everyone in the play should get a copy of this book, but the director will need more resources, I would think.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Macbeth Aug. 7 2000
By A Customer
Format:School & Library Binding
a tragic story of death and betrail. A great play to watch, read, and perform. Read this play!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Individual Edition April 22 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
When I first saw this copy of Macbeth, I was amazed--it wassothick that it looked more like a novel than a play. The reason forthis is 100 pages of introductory essays plus footnotes more thorough than most people would ever want. The introduction also has some very nice pictures, and the essays are insightful and the product of hideously scrupulous scholarship. The margins are slightly larger than average, allowing sufficient room for notes of your own (and it doesn't have that horrible newsprint-quality paper that makes it impossible to write on, like the Folger Shakespeare does). The only disadvantage to this edition is that...only about a third or so of the plays available from the New Cambridge Shakespeare, that it would be quite... impractical to use their texts for all your Shakespearean needs. However, for the student who needs a compact copy of the play to take to class, the New Cambridge Shakespeare is the best I've seen. (Of course, I haven't seen the Arden editions, which are also supposed to be very good.)
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The lust for illegitimate power
This is one of Shakespeare's plays I have liked best so far (I still have several ones left to read), along with Hamlet, King Lear and Julius Caesar. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2003 by Guillermo Maynez
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Read
Oxford's Macbeth was hard to read although foot notes were supplied. The language don't make sense and therefore is hard to make any sense of the story. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Macbeth is the precursor for many modern-day stories
I read Macbeth a little while ago, and realized that it mirrored modern-day life a little too well. We have all known a Macbeth, who backstabs Banquo at the height of his power, or... Read more
Published on March 10 2000 by Mike Kushnir
5.0 out of 5 stars Rapt Withal
Shakespeare's shortest and bloodiest tragedy, MACBETH is also possibly the most serious. Macbeth is a warrior who has just had his greatest victory, but his own "vaulting... Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2000 by oh_pete
5.0 out of 5 stars A Shakespeare play that is actually worthy of his reputation
A disillusioned warrior is sick and tired of life and says Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time, and... Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Macbeth is not one of my favorite Shakesperean plays, but it was still good. The characterization was great and revelation of Macbeth's inner thoughts was well-written and... Read more
Published on Dec 10 1999 by "megaa18"
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