Alex's Reviews > Macbeth

Macbeth by William Shakespeare
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M 50x66
's review
Sep 08, 2011

really liked it

If revenge is a dish best served cold, Shakespeare is a dish best served reheated. This is to say, I have never not enjoyed Shakespeare upon a repeated exposure, even if I disliked the play originally, and have always enjoyed it more the second time even when I liked it well the first. Whether it is a matter of seeing a film or play after reading the text, or reading the text after experiencing it visually, or even simply going over it in a class or repeated viewing, the more you are exposed, the clearer Shakespeare's brilliance is.

That said, Macbeth took multiple reheatings... I read it thrice through, and discussed it throughout, before I truly appreciated it fully. It is lucky it is so short a play (my edition is fully 2/3 commentary and history pieces), or I would never have allowed it the time to become worthwhile. Part of this is in the sheer denseness of minor characters, the keeping track of whom is difficult and frustrating until you get a feel for who is truly important and who is not. Part of it is the drawn-out nature of some scenes, coupled with the speed of other events, especially the rapidfire nature in which things happen toward the end. Some of the language feels denser here than elsewhere in Shakespeare's catalog. All wrapped in a brutal package. it's tempting not to open it.

Still, part of the joy of Macbeth is embracing the brutality, and watching the Lord and Lady unravel. You never root for Macbeth, but his violence and greed are human, if the most debased of our urges. He is never without doubts, always paranoid, often regretful even as he drowns in his deeds. And as you'd expect, there is some brilliant language... whether wonderful wit buried in the dark text or some stunning poetry throughout soliloquies (his "Out, Out" passage toward the end remains one of the most powerful in literature for me). There's always something to love in Shakespeare, and this was worth finally digging until it all made sense.

Of course, if all Shakespeare is brilliant in some place, Macbeth fails in requiring more time to delve into it. It rewards your patience, but when other of his plays offer so much and far more readily, it makes even a highly worthwhile play weaker as compares to the entire oeuvre.

(3.5)
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