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Showing 1-10 of 24 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on July 21, 2003
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's finest accomplishments. It is a good vs evil tale about a man, Macbeth, who apparently sees three witches, who are said to be prophets. He starts out as noble, serving the King of Scotland, and a brave and ruthless warrior ("unsealed him from the nave to the chops"). Repeated meetings w/ the three witches would have a profound effect on Macbeth, and his wife, Lady Macbeth. He slowly becomes deranged and hungry for power, and the entire play showcases his manipulative rise to the top, all the way to the point where he becomes the King of Scotland, and his eventual decline (also predicted accurately by the witches). It is full of awesome motifs, moral and interesting themes, great dialogue, action, and believable characters. The only reason I gave this 4 stars is because I had to read this my sophmore year of high school, and I had to analyze this book page by page, line by line, and the student teacher who taught it to us was obsessed with symbolism (like my sophmore teacher already was), and it diminished the appeal of the book to me, albeit slightly. Forget my past encounters in reading this book, because chances are they will not be helpful, but Macbeth is worth reading and analyzing, and it is easily one of Shakespeare's best plays.
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on September 12, 2002
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's more gloomy plays. It is downright grim. It starts grim and only gets blacker... ...It is one of Shakespeare's better plays
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's more ambiguous main characters. Motivation is always a big question with him. Sure, he is hungry for power. Yet he also needs prodding from several quarters to take most of his actions.
Lady Macbeth is really no different. She comes off as eager for evil early on, but is utterly shocked by its repercussions. Her attempt to go against nature leaves her absolutely unhinged and thirsting after guidance--only to find despair. In this regard, Shakespeare anticipates the psychology of Dostoevsky.
Macbeth is also one of Shakespeare's most supernatural plays. Regardless of whether one wants to debate the reality of Banquo's ghost, there are forces at work in Macbeth that are often unseen, but which drive the plot. The witches and all the unnaturalness come up against the forces of nature (the trees) and the divinely appointed King.
The most remarkable thing about this play is, for me at least, that it becomes a true tragedy only in its last moments. Only when all the stuff has hit the fan, and he has realized his doom is eminent, does Macbeth show the courage and nobility of a true tragic hero.
Macbeth is a great place to start if you are new to Shakespeare. It is a fun place to return if you're not.
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on September 1, 2002
Yes, it's great - a big, bloody free-for-all replete with heroic speeches and stunning falls from grace; the kind of book that begs to be read aloud... but I'm left with a few disappointments.
First of all, why does Lady Macbeth get all the credit for being the evil, pushy madam behind her husband's misdeeds? He is himself consumed with ambition and bent on murder from the time he hears the witches' prophecy ... Lady M only plays a minor part in shoring up his determination when the knife briefly trembles in his hands. From then on, he's off and running with no need of encouragement.
Second of all, why is Macbeth remembered as a tormented man racked by guilt? Aside from brief mention (eg, the appearance of Banquo at the feast) I did not see much evidence of M's guilty conscience, as the body count skyrocketed and he continued to hack apart every man, woman, and child who stood between himself and the throne. Lady M, who ends up wandering the halls of her castle and muttering about the blood on her hands while her husband is still off fighting doggedly for his own survival, is much more the guilt-ridden of the two.
I have the sense that popular culture has distorted the original plot, as often happens. Not quite what I expected... but still terrific.
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on September 1, 2002
Yes, it's great - a big, bloody free-for-all replete with heroic speeches and stunning falls from grace; the kind of book that begs to be read aloud... but I'm left with a few disappointments.
First of all, why does Lady Macbeth get all the credit for being the evil, pushy madam behind her husband's misdeeds? He is himself consumed with ambition and bent on murder from the time he hears the witches' prophecy ... Lady M only plays a minor part in shoring up his determination when the knife briefly trembles in his hands. From then on, he's off and running with no need of encouragement.
Second of all, why is Macbeth remembered as a tormented man racked by guilt? Aside from brief mention (eg, the appearance of Banquo at the feast) I did not see much evidence of M's guilty conscience, as the body count skyrocketed and he continued to hack apart every man, woman, and child who stood between himself and the throne. Lady M, who ends up wandering the halls of her castle and muttering about the blood on her hands while her husband is still off fighting doggedly for his own survival, is much more the guilt-ridden of the two.
I have the sense that popular culture has distorted the original plot, as often happens. Not quite what I expected... but still terrific.
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on August 4, 2000
Just what the world needs: ANOTHER opinion on MacBeth. Even if you ARE reading this, chances are you already know at least a little bit about this play, which is (for good reason) yet another plume in Shakespeare's hat.
Long before I was familiar with Macbeth, I knew and appreciated the most powerful line in the play: "Out out, damn spot!" This frantic plea is delivered by Lady Macbeth, while sleepwalking, in a scene near the end of the play, as her psychological guilt and paranoia surface in her subconscious by night.
The guilt, of course, is the result of the play's most significant action, Macbeth's murder of the Scottish King, Duncan, carried out with the intention of seizing the throne for himself. But as both Lord and Lady Macbeth (who coerced him into and was party to the murder) find out, such actions do not bring closure to a problem -- they simply establish more serious ones.
As in all the Great Shakespearean Tragedies (TM), of course, there is a tragic hero with a tragic flaw, which will result inevitably in his downfall. In this case, Macbeth seems to be the tragic figure (making this the only play in which the protagonist becomes the villain), and his tragic flaw is the burning ambition for power which leads him to kill. What is most unusual about Macbeth is the audience's inclination to sympathize with Macbeth, even in murder -- the motive is a good one, and the resulting course of action is all too plausible, and we sympathize because there is a Macbeth in each of us.
Like the better portion of Shakespeare's work, it's hard to attempt a serious criticism of this text now... it's been an established masterpiece for far too long. And, as usual, not without reason.
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on April 1, 2000
I don't feel "Macbeth" quite matches "Hamlet" or "King Lear." Nevertheless, it is a phenomenal piece of literature. The witches add a chilling demonic feature. It is interesting that even though they deceive Macbeth, they do not tell complete falsehoods. Except for the crimes of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, they are actually a real likeable couple. They stand by each other and cover each other's mistakes. We can see that their marriage is a successful one. Also, unlike Richard III or Goneril, they do not have the gift of blankness. They clearly regret their actions and suffer for them. Duncan is well drawn as a benevolent and virtuous king who is too trusting. Malcolm is fine as a sharper version of his father. King James' ancestor Banquo is well drawn as a virtuous general who is sharp enough to see through the witches' flattering promises, and eventually returns from the dead to confront his killer. Macduff and Siward are fine as the 2 Dimensional champions of good. The drunken porter offers us a few welcome laughs. Ross and Angus are interesting in that their gradual change from being supporters of Macbeth to enemies of Macbeth emphasize Macbeth's degeneration. Seyton is fine as the man who remains loyal to Macbeth to the end. Lennox is interesting as the man who never swallowed the 'official story' of Duncan's death. He says that Duncan was murdered by: "Those of his chamber, AS IT SEEMED...." (2.3.119). Being the cautious man he is, he waits until an absurd 'official story' of Banquo's death comes out before he becomes an enemy of Macbeth. So we have chilling images, lots of action, 3 D protagonists, good characters, evil characters, suspicious characters, naive characters, malignant forces, historical foundations, memorable passages, and even some comic relief. If you like this play, I suggest the B & W production with Orson Welles as Macbeth.
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on October 22, 1998
If you are looking for tragedy and a dark bloody drama then I recommend Macbeth with no reservations whatsoever. On a scale of 1-5, I fell this book deserves a 4.5. Written by the greatest literary figure of all time, Shakespeare mesmorizes the reader with suspense and irony. The Scottish Thane Macbeth is approachd by three witches who attempt and succeed at paying with his head. They tell him he will become king, which he does, alog with the aide of his ambitious wife. Macbeth's honor and integrity is destroyed with the deceit and murders he commits. As the novel progresses, Macbeth's conscience tortures him and makes him weak minded. Clearly the saying "what goes around comes around," is put to use since Macbeth's doom was similar to how he acquired his status of kingship. He kills Duncan, the king of Scottland and chops the head off the Thane of Cawdor, therefore the Thane of Fife, Macduff, does the same thing to him. I feel anyone who decides to read this extraordinary book will not be disatisfied and find himself to become an audience to Shakespearean tragedies.
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on September 10, 2001
Power corrupts. Macbeth is a tragedy that portrays the role of morals and values and the quest for power of a valiant solider. The play begins with Macbeth as a noble warrior who, by the end of the play, through paranoia and a hunger for power, turns into a bloodthirsty murderer.
Shakespeare shows some of his finest qualities of writing in the tragedy of Macbeth. The language does pose a problem, but as the play progresses the style of writing becomes less challenging. Many of the characters die before ever developing, yet Shakespeare includes an abundance of characters, sometimes making it difficult to keep track of all of them. Shakespeare once again incorporates a supernatural element into his play, characterized by the three witches adding suspense to the story.
I would recommend Macbeth to any reader who is willing to take on the challenge of Shakespearean language and style.
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on March 28, 2004
I won't even attempt to critique Shakespeare's work, as some have done here. I'm not reviewing MacBeth, but this particular version of it. As a homeschooling Mom with three highschool students, the only way we could get through Shakespeare's works is by having a copy of Shakespeare Made Easy on hand. As it is, we completed 5 plays this year - all done orally, with each of us taking several parts. While I think it's important that my kids read Shakespeare in it's original format (and they did), I had the Shakespeare Made Easy translation handy so that I could give simple, concise explanations whenever they just didn't "get it". I recommend these books for that purpose - not for the watered down versions of these classics, but to make them understandable to the average student who might otherwise find Shakespeare's works boring and a waste of time (as many students do).
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on April 22, 1999
I felt that Macbeth was the easiest to understand of all Shakespeare plays. I thought this play was based on betrayal, witchcraft, and murder. Though Macbeth committed many murders, I think his wife influenced him greatly. She poisoned the guards so Macbeth could assassinate Duncan. The witches also had a lot of influence on Macbeth. Every time he visited them they would tell him the future, what murders he would commit, and what thrones he would take. I thought that Macbeth should have prepared for Duncan's sons and friends to come back for revenge. Since he was going insane from hearing the voices and seeing the ghosts he was doomed for death. I was rather disappointed in this play compared to all of the other Shakespeare play that I've read. Although this is an exceptional book compared to "Lord of Flies". Macbeth is much more exciting.
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