Macbeth High School Edition
Overview of Secondary Works
1. Historical/Character Background
A historical background of MacBeth will help our reader have a more comprehensive understanding of the play. With this additional information, our reader will be able to contextualize the play and frame it within the society and current events that influenced how and why it was written and inspired. A broader knowledge of the society and culture will help foster questions of why Shakespeare chose to write Macbeth how he did and create some comparisons and contrasts with our modern times. Historical background information will create a foundation on which Macbeth can alive. Our high school audience will be able to envision the impact and influences on and by the play, and the Macbeth will take on greater realness and appreciation when it is put into context.
"Banquo." Princeton University. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
Bezio, Kristin M.S. "Politics and Play: The National Stage and the Player King in Shakespeare's Henry V and Macbeth." Qidditas 31 (2010): 11-21. The Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association. Web.
Kinney, Arthur F. Lies like Truth: Shakespeare, Macbeth, and the Cultural Moment. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2001. Print.
"Macbeth: Background." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
One major topic that comes up when discussing Macbeth is gender, both in regards to the Macbeths and the witches. Lady Macbeth is really the driving force in the play in defining the aspects of what both genders should be, but then doesn't exactly follow her own rules. Lady M is constantly pulling Macbeth's masculinity into question, explaining to him that he must commit the necessary crimes in order to truly be a man. I mean let’s be honest, Lady M’s qualifications go way beyond being as swift as the coursing river, more like being a creepy murder of men, women, and children. I personally prefer the former, but I’m not a Scottish queen. It isn't until Lady M sees the true potential of masculinity that was hidden underneath the surface in her husband that she reverts back to being a scared, guilty woman who desires cleanliness. Then there are the witches, who are never given a specific gender, they are the ones who reveal the hidden desire of Macbeth and Lady M to become king and queen, which can only be achieved through murder. Lady M is the one who makes the decision for her husband to kill King Duncan, but none of this would have happened had the witches kept their mouths shut. Even Hecate didn’t want them to speak to Macbeth, but the damage was already done. Overall, gender is the force that leads to the murder of most of the characters that die, but it also shows how it can be used as a force against murder.
Listor, William T. “‘Male and Female Created He Them’: Sex and Gender in Macbeth.” College Literature 16.3 (1989): 232-39. JSTOR. Web. 26 Feb. 2014 <http://www.jstor.org/stable/25111824>.
Thomas, Catherine E. “(Un)sexing Lady Macbeth: Gender, Power, and Visual Rhetoric in Her Graphic Afterlives.” The Upstart Crow 31 (2012): 81-102. Literature Resource Center. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A323037688&v=2.1&u=byuprovo&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w&asid=e004548e92c83fb35baec9a7f780ddc5>.
Ramsey, Jarold. “The Perversion of Manliness in Macbeth.” Studies in English Literature 13.2 (1973): 285-300. JSTOR. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/449740>.
3. Power, Politics, and Crime
Macbeth is apparently a loyal subject to the king, but upon learning about a possibility about becoming king, he almost immediately changes his position. What makes him change so quickly and why? Samuel Johnson said that every reader rejoices at Macbeth’s fall. Yet, what makes the character of Macbeth so compelling is how human he is. Macbeth shows the quick slope to corruption with power. Show the mortal thoughts and relatability. By studying the human side of Macbeth and his motivations, it will create a more interesting view for our high school readers to study and discuss about. Since there is not a concrete answer, it can open the door to discussion and introduce very briefly to critical viewpoints.
Carr, Stephen Leo, and Peggy A. Knapp. "Seeing through Macbeth." PMLA 96.5 (1981): 837-47. Print.
Favila, Marina. ""Mortal Thoughts" and Magical Thinking in "Macbeth"." Modern Philology 99.1 (2001): 1-25. Print.
Marsh, Derrick. “‘Macbeth’: Easy Questions, Difficult Answers”. Sydney Studies in English vol. 8 (1982): 3-15. Print.
4. Adaptations: Plays and Movies
With the incredible amount of adaptations of this play, most critical essays seem to focus on eastern/Oriental versions of them. This begs the question: why is Macbeth so popular in the east? What is it about this particular play that attracts Oriental people? The metaphors used in the two adaptations spoken of specifically (“Kingdom of Desire” and “Story of the Bloody Hand”) will be described in a way that helps high school students understand that Shakespeare is not only English in popularity, but global.
Also, the very first movie of Macbeth, directed by Orson Welles, has begun the stereotype of nearly every Macbeth adaptation since. Welles made it a horror, and every movie since has been along the same lines. It’s totally understandable with what goes on in the play, but why go all the way to horror? There are ways to make the play more a suspense, or a psychoanalysis, or all of the above. Why does everyone choose horror? I’ll be focused on that, as well.
Hsiung, Yuwen. "Kurosawa's Throne of Blood and East Asia's Macbeth." Comparative Literature and.Culture 6.1 (2004): n. pag. Purdue University. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
Huang, Alexander C.Y. "Shakespeare and the Visualization of Metaphor in Two Chinese Versions of Macbeth." Comparative Literature and Culture 6.1 (2004): n. pag. Purdue University. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
Smith, Amanda J. "Defining Welles's "Macbeth": Hollywood Horror and the Hybrid Mode." Literature Film Quarterly 39.2 (2011): 151-59. EBSCOhost. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.