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on February 12, 2014
i am beyond please with this book. i was having a hard time with the original writings but this made it easier to understand and appreciate the writings of Shakespeare. i recommend the no fear versions to anyone that struggles with anything written in old english.
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on July 14, 2009
Can't complain about the price, but the cover illustration is wrong (wrong publisher), there are no 'textual notes', 'modern perspective' or 'further reading' etc. and the book is 84 pages, not 221+ (as according to 'Click to look...' nor 96 as stated in the product description section). Don't show me the 2004 Simon & Schuster edition if what you are selling (1993 Dover Thrift Edition) isn't even close to what you're advertising.
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on January 4, 2014
I used this as a companion to the script in the rehearsal for a professional theatre production. Very helpful and informative during those times when actors and the director need a boost. Easy to understand and very relatable.
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In the theater, people apparently don't call Shakespeare's "Macbeth" by its actual name -- it's usually called "MacB" or "The Scottish Play." The dark superstitions that hover around this play really show its power: it's a harrowing portrait of a weak man who spirals into a personal hell of ambition, murder and madness.

Shortly after a victory in battle, Macbeth and his friend Banquo are traveling home across a heath when they encounter three witches -- who greet him with "All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter!"

When MacBeth is made Thane of Cawdor, he naturally begins to think that being king might be next in line. And when King Duncan visits his castle, Lady MacBeth goads her husband into murdering the king and framing a couple of innocent servants for the deed. As the witches predicted, MacBeth becomes king of Scotland.

But the witches also prophesied that Banquo would be the father of kings, so MacBeth starts tying off loose ends by hiring assassins to kill Banquo and his young son, as well as a wily thane named MacDuff and all of his family. But though MacBeth believes himself to be safe from everyone, his fear begins to grow as madness and guilt torment him and his wife...

One of the most fascinating things about "Macbeth" is how evil it is -- mass murder, insanity, bloody ghosts, a trio of manipulative witches pulling MacBeth's strings, and a nice if weak man who becomes a raving murderous paranoiac. Shakespeare starts the story on a dark note, and it gets darker and bloodier as the story winds on to its bleak climax.

In fact, the entire story is a two-part spiral -- things get tighter and more intense, even as MacBeth and Lady M. get crazier and more violent. Shakespeare litters the story with brutally intense scenes (Banquo's ghost crashing the dinner, Lady M. trying to scrub her hands clean) and powerful dialogue ("Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,/And look on death itself! up, up, and see/The great doom's image!").

The one flaw: Shakespeare's handling of the "no man born of woman" prediction is a bit lame. I mean, didn't that count as "born" back in Elizabethan times too?

Honestly, MacBeth is both a fascinating and repulsive character. He starts off as a nice ordinary thane with no particular ambition, but his weakness and his wife drive him to some pretty horrible acts. Before long, he's become somebody you desperately want to see diced into little pieces. And Lady Macbeth is little better, although there's a slight disparity between her ruthless ambition and her later insanity.

"MacBeth" is a story filled with stormy darkness and all-consuming fire -- a powerful depiction of evil and how easily we can be seduced. Just don't say its name in the theater.
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on June 10, 2004
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.
The plea to be unsexed is relevant to the sexlesness of the cruel Bolshevik women of the last century and of women terrorists and women leftwing academics. These are generally sexless and totally cruel in pursuing revolution and the destruction of Judeo-Christian civilization.
Lady Macbeth was outwardly beautiful but most of these unsexed women of the revolution have not. Unlike Lady Macbeth they have achieved the being of the three witches for whom they resemble.
The play is indeed full of rich irony- how Macbeth persuades the three murderers that Banquo is responsible for their misfortunes, twisting the truth to suit his unholy ends as the media so often does today.
Macbeth is brought to justice for his deeds. His arrogance is his downfall.
The benevolent influence though, in this story is the doctor of physic - the voice of compassion and religion who says while attempting to heal Lady Macbeth- "More she needs the divine than the physician-G-D, G-D forgive us all"
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on January 4, 2004
A handy little paperback pocket edition of the great play you've read and seen many times. The 1994 Penguin Popular Classic edition is interesting because it includes twenty-two pages of introductory material about Shakespeare, his times, and the play itself, all written by an unnamed editor who uses the first-person and discusses editorial choices made in this version. The editor emphasizes the fact that there are weaknesses and holes in the text, caused by Shakespeare's writing on a short deadline in 1606 and by the fact that later editors and actors and compilers probably cut-and-pasted large sections. The result, counsels the editor, is that some scenes (including Hecat's speech in III-v, and the witches' appearance in IV-i) is "probably not by Shakespeare".
This is rather a large leap. It may be true, but we have no way to know for sure. Other credible scholars (Levi, Bloom) note that these sections are unique, but do not aver that they are not by Shakespeare. In any event, it is rather interesting that this editor devotes so much space to this notion, and misses the opportunity to discuss other --more important-- elements of the play, such as the subtle poetry of Macbeth's speeches, the "post-Christian" religious significance, the blood-darkness-water themes, the parallels to Lear, or the political connections between Scottish Thanes and British Earls.
Another quibble is with the notes: all the text notes and vocabulary are at the end of the book, so an interested reader is constantly riffling back and forth. Penguin should have followed Folger's admirable lead and put the text notes on the same pages as the text itself.
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on November 20, 2003
Much Ado About Nothing, a play written by William Shakespeare, is about two couples, who through a series of trials and schemes, fall in love with each other. This is a romantic play, and it contrasts two types of love, romantic and realistic love.
Benedick and Beatrice portray realistic love. They have a solid foundation for each other, they can tease each other, get mad at each other, and love each other at the same time. They are down to earth and practical about love. Once they fall in love, they cannot be swayed in their decisions even though they try to ignore their feelings. Claudio and Hero, on the other hand, represent romantic love. They live on Cloud 9, and their love is based on physical attraction. In the play they fall in love with each before talking. As soon as their relationship gats rocky, though, Claudio bails out, leaving a heartbroken Hero.
I think that Shakespeare wrote this play to show how comical love is. Benedick and Beatrice, who both swore mutual hate for each other, and pledged they would never get marry, fall desperately in love with each other after overhearing their friend's schemes to get them together. Claudio, who swears his undying affection to Hero, mentally dumps her once in the movie, and then leaves her at the wedding altar, because Don John plays tricks on his mind, and easily sways him to quit loving Hero. I think Shakespeare also tried to show us that true love conquers any obstacle in its way.
There are many life lessons in this play. The title, Much Ado About Nothing, relays one of the most important messages. Claudio constantly makes mountains out of molehills in this play. He is quick to jump to conclusions, and does not stop to verify the facts. He bases his judgments on perceptions, instead of reality.
I would highly recommend this book. Although it was written about 400 years ago, it is still applicable to real life. It was a good book, and it contained drama, action, romance, comedy, and deception. One of its downfalls was that it was hard to understand the language because it was written so long ago.
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on November 20, 2003
I thought Much Ado About Nothing made no sense really because it seemed shorter than Antigone, and there was a little too much love going on. I couldn't handle it all, especially the deception by Don John. The first love between Claudio and Hero were like two teenagers in puppy love, and Benedick and Beatrice who had crazy love, which means that they liked each other, but didn't confess about their feelings.
William Shakespeare's main purpose was I think showing what kind of loves there were through different types of people. The first of which is Claudio, the desperate type only looking for a girl to look cool. Whenever Don John told Claudio a lie, he would get all mad and act like he could never forgive Hero. He would whine like a little girl. I think the purpose didn't really click into to me because I am too young and don't understand love.
What I have personally learned from this is to not rush into love because even though Don John made up those lies and false judgments about Hero, those could really happen in real life, plus the fact that we are two young to understand it. We get into that high school puppy love which isn't the same as real love. When we are older we will understand because we will be at that stage where all of us will understand the true meaning of love.
I would not recommend this book because I think it had really no point but to show us what kind of loves there are and, how we should treat them with the person we love. The comedy in this was really good, but in this book, I didn't see the mix of comedy and love.
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on November 19, 2003
This story starts out as four people who don't really know how or that there fate lies with each other. Hero is a very charming innocent girl who likes to please people; she doesn't stand up for herself but basically obeys what her father tells her. She meets a man, Claudio, who falls in love with her because of her beauty. Claudio is very quick to judge and has no loyalty or consideration of other people. He is very selfish in what he acts on, he doesn't seem to care about anything else except what he wants. These two who fall in love with each other, at first they seem to be the perfect pair but soon much is found out about there character and perseverance when they face a trial that will test them and there devotion to each other.
At a first impression you would never guess their feelings toward each other but little did Benedick and Beatrice know. Beatrice is a fiery woman who is very opinionated and never ashamed to speak her mind, and especially shares her opinions with a certain man named Benedick. Benedick also has a very wild outlook and also likes to speak what he believes is right. They often bicker which they state there differences in a very fiery manner. Benedick protests quite openly how stupid he thinks Love and marriage is, which is comical seeing that later on, he would be giddy with the same love that he mocks. Slowly but surely there obstinate passion and their denial of there true feelings fall into the right place.
I think that Shakespeare's main purpose for writing this book is because he wanted to show how important marriage was. That you shouldn't base your whole relationship on what you look like but you should find out who that person is and then decide if you would want to marry them. Shakespeare wanted to describe the difficulties of having a fake-based love. Because then when you actually have to start dealing with the real issues then how are you going to be able to persevere. Whereas when you have that reality love, the love where you argue about stuff, but its realizing that there are different opinions and that you will get in arguments. So when you have that realistic love then you will know how to deal with the person you married. Whereas on fake love you dont even know who they really are let alone how to deal with them.
I have personally learned how important it really is when you are picking whom you are going to live with for the rest of your life. I have learned that you really need to look inside of the person to know who they are and to look at how they react to situations. Also not to base it on looks, because if you marry them then you are going to live with them for the rest of you life. God told us that if we get married then we are to be as one, and you should totally love them. Not just like how they look, but base your relationships on their character and personality.
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on November 19, 2003
I thought that the play "Much Ado about Nothing" was a very positive and a enjoyable play to read. Shakespeare's main point in the play is that Love makes you act weird. In the play when Benidick over heard Don Jon, Claudio, and Leonato in the garden giving the illusion that Beatrice was in love with him you saw his true feelings come out of him that you thought you would never see. Beatrice and Benidick fight like cats and Dogs but as soon as Benidick overheard that Beatrice was in love with him he acted like a 3 year old when they find out there going to Disney world. He was thrilled at the fact that Beatrice fancied him. Now on the other side of the garden, Hero and another Woman are doing the same Don Jon, Claudio, and Leonato did to Benidick, only to Beatrice. When Beatrice over hears that Benidick fancy's her she is in shock. She acts as if nothing in thw world was wrong with a huge grin on her face and singing like a love struck teenager. Now these are 2 adults that couldn't stand to be in the same room with each other and now they love each other!There's more to that story then just what we think. But you have to read to find out! I have learned a couple of things from reading this play. Iv learned to like people for who they are inside not on the outside. Hero and Claudio's relationship was based on looks. Iv also learned that when u do wrong things punishment may not come to you just then but eventually it will catch up with you. Don Pedro tricked everyone into thinking common things of Hero and he got what he deserved. And last but not least I learned to put family 2nd to God because when everyone else leaves you will still have family. When Claudio made that scene in front of everyone about Hero Beatrice was right there to comfort her. And I would recommend this book to anyone because it was funny and interesting, And I'm a teen. It's hard to keep our attention but me and my class seem to agree that this play was excellent!
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