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Shake.spe.are Macbeth


John Piersol

on 16 February 2012

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Transcript of Shake.spe.are Macbeth

[Mackdonwald] slue his wife and children, and lastlie himself, least if he had yeelded simplie, he should have beene executed in most cruell wise for an example to other. Macbeth entering into the castell by the gates, found the carcasse of Mackdonwald lieng dead there amongst the residue of the slaine bodies, which when he beheld, remitting no peece of his cruell nature with that pitiful sight, he caused the head to be cut off, and set upon a poles end, and so sent it as a present to the king.
Captain: . . . For brave Macbeth – well he
deserves that name – Disdaining Fortune, with his
brandish’d steel,
Which smok’d with bloody execution,
Like Valor’s minion carv’d out his passage
Till he faced the slave;
Which nev’r shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam’d him from the nave to th’ chops,
And fix’d his head upon our battlements (I.i.15-23).
Probable Sources for "Macbeth"
Holinshed's "Chronicles"
based on
Boece's "Scotorum Historiae"
King James' "Daemonologie"
King James' "Basilicon Doron"
Probable Sources for "Twelfth Night"
Riche's "Apolonius and Silla," from "His Farewell to Militarie Profession
"Gl'Ingatti" ("The Deceived Ones")
The Academy of the Intrati - Siena
Belleforest's "Histoires Tragiques"
Three Main Purposes
Buchanan's "Rerum Scoticarum Historia"
1. Increase excitement (dramatic)
2. Make Macbeth more complex (thematic)
3. Cater to King James I (political)
Macbeth was a man of penetrating genius, a high spirit, unbounded ambition, and , if he had possessed moderation, was worthy of any command however great; but in punishing crimes he exercised a severity, which, exceeding the bounds of the laws, appeared apt to degenerate into cruelty.
[A voice heard by the King] ‘Think not Kenneth that the wicked slaughter of Malcolme Duffe by thee contrived, is kept secret from the knowledge of the eternall God: thou art he that didst conspire the innocents death . . . It shall therefore come to pass, that both thou thy self, and thy issue, through the just vengeance of almightie God, shall suffer woorthie punishment’ . . .The King with this voice being striken into great dred and terror, passed the night without any sleep coming in his eyes. (Holinshed, 247)
At last, whether in truth an audible voice from heaven addressed him, as is reported, or whether it were the suggestion of his own guilty mind, as often happens to the wicked, in the silent watches of the night. . .(Buchanan, 310)
"Conscience . . . it is nothing else but the light of knowledge that God hath planted in man; which choppeth him with a feeling that hee hath done wrong when ever he committeth any sinne . . ." (Basilicon Doron, 17)
King James
Macbeth: Methought, I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no
Macbeth doth murther Sleep,’ --the innocent Sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care . . .
Still it cried ‘Sleep no more!’ to all the
‘Glamis hath murther’d sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more!’(II.II.32-41).
The siblings Fabrizio and Lelia are separated during the sack of Rome in 1527, when Lelia is thirteen years old (a likely source for Viola's father, who died "that day that made my sister thirteen years" (T‚N‚ V.i.240)). Three years later, when the play occurs, Lelia's father Virginio confines her to a convent, and her lover, Flaminio, shifts his affections to the indifferent Isabella, daughter of Gherardo, the man whom Lelia's father intends her to marry.
Lelia escapes from the convent, disguises herself as a boy, takes the name Fabio, and serves Flaminio, who sends him/her to woo Isabella. Isabella falls in love with Fabio, who receives her affection so long as she repulses Flaminio in return. When Fabrizio returns to town, the old men think he is the escaped Lelia and lock him in a room with Isabella. The inevitable occurs, and Fabrizio and Isabella are betrothed. Flaminio, after being talked out of taking revenge on "Fabio," marries Lelia.
Apolonius, a duke of Constantinople, lays over on Cyprus while returning home from his wars against the Turk, and attracts the attentions of Silla, daughter of the Duke of Cyprus. After Apolonius' departure, Silla secretly boards ship with her servant Pedro (the two disguised as brother and sister) to visit him. The captain of the vessel threatens to rape Silla, she prays to God, and the ship is wrecked with all hands lost but Silla, who floats to shore with a chest of the captain's clothes. Silla dresses herself in male clothing, assumes the name of her brother Silvio, and enters Apolonius' service. For him she woos the wealthy widow Julina who, (of course), falls in love with him/her. Silla suffers and does not return Julina's affections.
At this point the real Silvio, travelling in search of his sister, arrives at Constantinople, where he encounters Julina in a park. She hails him by his proper name (mistaking him for the count's page) and invites him to supper. He and Julina dine, and subsequently go to bed together, where Julina conceives a child. Silvio, afraid he has been mistaken for someone else, leaves town in haste the next morning. Julina, realizing her growing "condition," goes to plead before Duke Apolonius, who has thrown his "Silvio" in prison after hearing from the gossip of servants his page's greater success in love. Apolonius draws his sword and threatens to kill "Silvio" unless "he" marries Julina. Silla is forced to reveal herself, and Apolonius, taken with her faithfulness, marries her. Silvio hears tales of these strange events, and eventually returns to Constantinople, where he marries the grieving Julina and all ends happily ever after.
"Apolonius and Silla"
Three "Venus figurines" from the European ice age of
ca. 25,000 years ago.
(left) Venus of Dolni Vestonice, Czechia, burnt clay
(center) Venus of Willendorf, Austria, chalk.
(right) Venus of Lespugue, France, mammoth ivory.
200,000 B.C.E.
Modern humans evolve from archaic Homo Sapiens in Africa

25,000 B.C.E

5,000 B.C.E.
Writing Invented

370 B.C.E.
Plato's "Phaedrus" Composed
The Future
1969 A.D.
First ARPANET connection made in Menlo, CA
(Birth of the internet)
1450 A.D.
Gutenberg Printing Press
1600 A.D.
2010 A.D.
Macbeth as a tragic hero
Rise to noble standing
Neither completely good nor completely evil
Supernatural involvement
Falls from a great height
Possesses an understanding of his impending doom, and his own role in his demise
"for there is an up-start Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey." ~Robert Greene, 1592
So what does Shakespeare use?
Sexual Ambiguity
Leila ("Fabio")
Silla ("Silvio")
Viola ("Cesario")
What does he change?
Complicates it
While Fabrizio and Silvio are both vaguely drawn characters, Sebastian is given fuller characterization.
Viola and Sebastian enhance the sexual ambiguity, since each is a mix of traditional sex characteristics (also TWINS).
In Sebastian's first appearance we see this as he weeps, saying : "She is drowned already, sir, with salt water, though I seem to drown her rememberance again with more." (II.i.26-28). A few lines later he describes himself as "near the manners of my mother" (II.i.36), yet he also proves later to be a very competent fighter, etc.
Echoes of Minor Characters
Sir Andrew Aguecheek
(Nurse from "Romeo and Juliet")
But Shakespeare makes them FULL
Also SIMPLIFIES, and [gasp!] CLEANS UP his sources
Viola as a romantic heroine:
No prior attachment to Orsino, thus taking away the bitterness Lelia feels towards Isabella
Spontaneous, selfless love for Orsino vs. Lelia's hidden maneuverings to get Flaminio back
Removes "controversial" plot points:
Attempted rape of Silla
Isabella's Pregnancy
Lelia's rebellion against her father
Shakespeare the Mash-up artist
Leslie Hotson, in his book "The First Night of 'Twelfth Night' ", uncovers historical evidence that the play was commissioned and first performed at court on Twelfth Night, January 6, 1600/1, a day when Queen Elizabeth entertained a visiting Italian, the Duke of Bracciano, Don Virginio Orsino.
If this theory is correct, Shakespeare and his company would have had approximately two weeks to prepare the play for presentation.
This seems to fit with what we know of his obvious appropriation of sources (incidentally the same ones he used in part for "Comedy of Errors"), and might explain some puzzling lines and plot details ("Thou shalt present me as a eunuch to him" (I.ii.1-3).
Don't really....

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