Friday, 27 January 2012


Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches
After reading and analysing the excerpt DUNCAN'S MURDER  (act II, scene III) from Shakespeare's MACBETH, compare how these two adaptations represent this key moment in the tragedy.


Gregory Doran’s 1999 production of Macbeth formed part of the RSC Millennium season, and opened at The Swan, Stratford on Avon, to great critical acclaim in November 1999.  The production was immediately spoken of as the finest since Trevor Nunn’s production, starring Ian McKellen, in 1976.
Set in an unspecified militaristic state, this studio production emphasised the energy and pace of the play.  In the theatre it ran without an interval, enabling the relentless unravelling of the tragedy to take its full effect.  The set was spare, the costumes modern/timeless, the colour palette monochrome, the action played out in brooding twilight. The production was filmed for television in 2000, and broadcast on 1st January 2001 on Channel 4, with the entire cast from the 1999 production .

(Macbeth :  Antony Sher  Lady Macbeth: Harriet Walter)

Peter Moffat’s Macbeth is a spirited re-telling of Shakespeare’s tragedy, with the Kingdom of Scotland translated into a Michelin-starred restaurant, Nose to Tail: Duncan Docherty’s kingdom. It is part of the series of four Shakespeare plays updated to the 21st century and broadast on BBC One, 

Shakespeare Retold’.
   (Joe Macbeth: James McAvoy   Ella Macbeth: Keeley Hawes)


Shakespeare took the material for his play from Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. Macbeth was a Scottish king (1040-1057) who had Duncan I killed in order to get to the throne and was finally killed by Duncan's son who thus avenged his father's murder. However in the Chronicles Duncan was presented as a weak king and Macbeth as a successful and good monarch. Shakespeare probably altered the story to please King James I, which might also explain the importance given to the three witches, a subject the king had written about in his Daemonologie.

Macbeth as an overreacher

The overreacher is a literary type which dates back to mythology. Prometheus, the Titan who defied Zeus and stole the fire from the Olympus to give it back to human beings, was the first overreacher. 
This special kind of rebel is a man who wants to overcome the limits imposed to Mankind by God or Nature. He defies the divinity or natural laws led by a great ambition. He is eventually  punished with death. 
Famous overreachers in literature are Dante's Ulysses, Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein or R.L.Stevenson's Dr Jekyll.
Macbeth  can, in fact, be considered an overreacher.
He's moved by his great ambition in the pursuit of power. To get to his goal, Macbeth is ready to commit regicide, which is an act against God (in the Middle Ages the king was his representative on earth) and Nature  (that is why it brings about chaos, catastrophe and terrible weather conditions).  He is finally punished with death (he's killed by Mcduff ).

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