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Literary Criticism & Bard > Difficult Plays

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message 1: by Ted (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:39AM) (new)

Ted Rohe (vangelicmonk) | 1 comments I recently went to a live play of Othello. I thought they did a very good job on a difficult tragedy (IMO) to do live on stage.

What do you think may be the most difficult play to do live?

What is your opinion of the best adaptation of Shakespear on TV?

My favorite is either Much Ado About Nothing or The Merchant of Venice on film.

message 2: by Georgia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:39AM) (new)

Georgia | 1 comments I think that tv and film adaptations of Shakespeare can be enjoyable, but nothing compares to seeing the plays where they should be seen - on stage. I've seen many productions in London, some by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and all have been thrilling. Whereas when I see them on tv or on film, they seem flat and unreal.

message 3: by Robert (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new)

Robert | 10 comments As much as I admire many of them, I sometimes despair of the assumed need to tinker with the plays so that Julius Caesar becomes a mafia don or Prospero a magician stranded in Vegas ?(Okay, I'm making these examples up, but I'm sure mowt of you can think of similar excesses...
Why not just present the play as it is

message 4: by John (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

John (easyreeder) I'm sort of with you on that, Robert. But I think the temptation comes from the fuzzy temporal setting that Shakespeare employed. When does Hamlet take place? In some indistinct historical moment, that is awfully Elizabethan, because that's when it was staged. So, the thinking goes: why not set it now, in some indistinct historical moment? Or, often that's how it goes. Not to defend or laud the results.

message 5: by Robert (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:37PM) (new)

Robert | 10 comments John makes a good point. Shakespeare's plays, like all works of art, are inevitably a product of his time, whether they take place a century earlier or in ancient Rome. The "fuzzy" setting can probably be used to some advantage - I don't think Branagh's late 19th century setting detracted from "Hamlet" in the least - and if an intelligent director can juxtapose a different time frame in such a way that it actually complements or strengths the characters - as in the "Richard III" of a few years ago - there's no harm done. But when directors strain to create anachronistic elements - I recall reading about a Public Theatre production several years ago in which one character roller-skated on stage carrying a boombox blaring "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" - or reduce the characters to generic cliches,(Don'tcha get it? The Tudors are just like the Corleone family!) the efforts can be ridiculous. (see Branagh's "Love's Labours Lost"...)Having said that, I admit that I liked Luhrman's "Romeo and Juliet" film a lot more than I expected to. But when

message 6: by Rosemary (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:55PM) (new)

Rosemary Robert, I think the mafia don was actually used some years ago at a theatre here in Houston, though the play involved might have been Measure for Measure. Vangelicmonk, my first exposure to Othello was the opera version--and I was enthralled with the over-the-top passion.

I agree seeing the plays live on stage is far superior to watching videos of stage productions. But some of the movies mentioned are wonderful in their own ways--with close-ups of characters and panoramas of scenery. Has anyone else heard the story about the filming of Orson Wells' Othello? Something about costumes not arriving in time for a shoot, so he set the scene in a bathhouse and the men wore towels. Anyway, I do like that film version. And I'm delighted to find a group of Shakespeare fans.

message 7: by Robert (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:56PM) (new)

Robert | 10 comments I've set a goal for myself of reading all of the plays (I usually finish from 6 to 8 a year) and I've been surprised to discover that many of the less-celebrated plays ("Pericles", "Cymbeline", and even the often-dismissed "Titus Andronicus") are far more interesting than I had been lead to believe. They haven't entered our collective unconscious the way "R & J" and others have, and they're much more in keeping with the theatrical tastes/fads of the day, but if you keep that in mind - they're stagier, less literary - there are some truly underexplored pleasures to be found.
When I was young, I favored the comedies; when I was in my thirties, I leaned more towards "Hamlet", "Lear" and "Othello", but now I find myself much more absorbed by the Histories (which I had no interest in earlier) and the "late romances". (But my favorite, for personal reasons, has almost always been "The Tempest".)
I also like Welles' version of "Othello" a lot; it's Elizabethan noir...

message 8: by Cathy (new)

Cathy I try to keep an open mind when directors stage Shakespeare's plays in different eras or non-traditional dress and scenary--especially if the staging gives me new or different insight or causes me to listen to the lines anew.

Some years ago there was an excellent series on the RBC that had the actors give the same line with different emphasis, pause and tone; each reading rendered a different meaning to the words. I wish I could get my hands on that series again (among others it had Patrick Stewart, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.)

message 9: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) | 14 comments What a timely thread: I've just finished watching a British quartet of Shakespeare-based plays.

"The Taming of the Shrew," where Katherine is a Conservative MP and Bianca a world-class supermodel.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream," set in a modern day resort, though it retained much of the magical elements of the original.

"Much Ado About Nothing," set on the set of a British version of "Good Morning America."

"Macbeth," set in a high-end restaurant. Joe Macbeth is a master chef, Duncan owns the restaurant, and the witches are a trio of garbage men.

I actually think Shakespeare's comedies work better when adapted to a modern sensibility (potentially, anyway, sometimes the experiment results in a Frankenstein monster) since the originals depend so heavily on an audience intimate with Elizabethan English and, for may taste, are a bit broad and ridiculous.

As for other Shakespeare adaptations, Branagh's versions of "Othello" and "Henry V" are two of my favorites. There's another version of "Othello" from Granada TV where Othello is the first black chief of London's police and Iago (Jago) is one of his lieutenants (who, unlike the play, ends up chief of police himself after driving Othello mad).

I wasn't terribly impressed with Olivier's "Henry V" but I thought his "Richard III" was wonderful. And speaking of wonderful adaptations in a traditional vein, I've been enjoying the BBC & Time-Life Films versions of the Bard's work.

"Moonlighting" (the TV series that gave Bruce Willis and Cybil Sheppard their major breaks) did a take-off of "Taming of the Shrew" that's good (though I can't remember the episode's name).

Of course, one's sampling of Shakespeare adaptations is not complete without seeing Akira Kurosawa's (Ran, Throne of Blood, etc.).

And, finally, Julie Taymor's Titus is a brilliant adaptation of "Titus Andronicus," with Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Alan Cumming.

message 10: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 40 comments Terence, I enjoyed that quartet. I thought it had some interesting moments.

I actually admit to liking Sir Ian McKellen's pre-WWII/Hitler Richard III; just watched it the other night.

I love Elijah Moshinksy's All's Well that Ends Well set in the Dutch Siecle Or.

message 11: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 40 comments Redutsa, I agree: it can be difficult to move a play, and then expect some lines to work. I am willing to let a few things slide, if the production as whole is really working, but I think we've all seen the production that is set on Mars (or something vague like that) and wondered "what's the justification for this?"

message 12: by Rolls (last edited Jan 09, 2009 08:45AM) (new)

Rolls | 2 comments How should one approach a production of one of the bard's plays when it comes to what period to set it in? Oddly I was considering this very question last evening. In his time Shakespeare's players made only a cursory attempt at historical accuracy. Caesar and his retinue wore togas of course but over their doublet and hose. Ditto for the casts of Titus, Coriolanus etc. For the most part the plays were presented in "modern dress." Hamlet wore a doublet, hose and pumpkin pants. As did Macbeth and Lear, even though all three of these plays were supposed to take place in earlier times than Shakespeare's own. So if modern dress was good enough for Burbage and the boys why not for us? Why not have Hamlet attend his father's funeral in a double breasted black Armani suit? He is the glass of fashion and the mould of form after all. On first glance this would seem to truly make Shakespeare our contemporary and relieve of us the burden and the pitfalls of finding some sort of historical context or production concept with which to stage the play. The problem arises though in a play like "Romeo and Juliet." If Romeo and Tybalt are all decked out in the latest from Urban Outfitters why on earth would they be dueling with swords? Fencing is so integral to the texture of this play that it would HAVE to be staged in a time when men engaged in this sort of combat. (Now I know Baz Luhrman had guns instead of swords but this approach would be ludicrous onstage without editing and camera tricks.) So it would seem that directors need to approach the plays on their own terms and find the inner truth and logic of each and allow that to mould them. Not the other way around. Peter Brook once said, "It is important with Shakespeare to not color the words - let them color you." I think the same is true in directing a play by Shakespeare. Any sort of concept one chooses to apply must be a simplification. There are so many ironies and ambiguities in these plays why limit ourselves? Why not allow our productions to be as nuanced and multifaceted as the plays? This might sound like hooey. But there have been many people like Brook or Granville-Barker or Komisarjevsky who by concentrating on the text and the actors allowed the plays to design themselves. In this way we don’t end up with Director’s Shakespeare but Shakespeare’s Shakespeare.

message 13: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (ashdolenz) I should think one of the hardest to do live would be ones with numerous stage sets, that the play takes place in many different places. Or one that uses many special effects. Macbeth seems that way. I can't think of one that fits the former.

I really enjoy, and am very partial, to Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, though as far as it being historically accurate I know it's not entirely. But he does stick to the play completely and the actors are wonderful.

message 14: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 91 comments It is important to remember that, while (as Rolls observed) Shakespeare made only cursory attempts at costuming accuracy, the reason for this was mainly budgetary. The same is true of Orson Welles’ legendary 1937 production of Julius Caesar. Because the fledgling Mercury Theatre could not afford costumes, they staged the play in contemporary military uniforms and were immediately hailed for drawing brilliant parallels to Mussolini’s regime (a very current topic for the time of course). This is a classic example of how practical limitations can enhance an artist’s creativity.

But I have always disagreed (quite strongly in fact) with the notion that it’s a director’s job to “make the play accessible to the modern audience” or words to that effect. If the play isn’t already accessible, directorial tinkering isn’t going to make it so. If it is accessible, directorial tinkering simply serves to gild the lily. This bizarre notion that Shakespeare needs help from the director in order to be accessed suggests the director’s refusal to trust his text or his audience.

This is not to say that I don’t enjoy many productions set in times other than their original context. Like others here, I’m a hug fan of Branagh’s Hamlet. As Robert observes, the 19th century setting doesn’t detract from it at all. I would add that the pageantry and glamor of the Prisoner of Zenda/Nicholas and Alexandra-type setting helps to enhance the romance of the piece. That is, in my view, the benefit of re-setting the plays – the enhancing of attributes that, while they may already be there, are not always the most readily noticed. This is why the same plays are done over and over again, sometimes even by the same artists, to explore the many facets of each gem.

message 15: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 18 comments I think that the two hardest Shakespeare plays to do live would probably be Macbeth and The Winter's Tale, with Love's Labor's Lost coming up close behind. Macbeth is tough mainly because it rarely lives up to what one imagines the play to be. It's almost never scary enough, never brutal enough. Also, Macbeth doesn't have much of a message beyond the fact that people suck. It's not a play about the triumph over brutality, so much as the continuation of a cycle of brutality (see Season 2 of Slings and Arrows.) The Winter's Tale is tricky almost entirely because of the last scene. A production of The Winter's Tale really forces an audience to suspend disbelief to the limits of imagination. When it works, it's a gut-wrenchingly beautiful story of redemption, when it fails it's a soppy mess of a fairy tale. And there's absolutely no middle ground.

My two favorite adaptations of Shakespeare plays for TV/Film are Trevor Nunn's Macbeth and Franco Zepherelli's Romeo and Juliet. Trevor Nunn's Macbeth features Ian McKellen and Judi Dench as Mac and Lady M, so you're off to good start there. But the main reason I think this adaptation is so successful is that Trevor Nunn leaves so much up to the imagination. If you watch it alone, with all the lights off, it is utterly terrifying.

What else can I say about Zephirelli's Romeo and Juliet other than the fact that it is, in my opinion, a completely perfect representation of the play. It is sensual, innocent, tragic, and I love every second of it.

The two film adaptations I cannot stand are Branaugh's Hamlet (It's 2 hours too long, and Branaugh is far too old. Kate Winslet's Ophelia is brilliant though) and Baz Luhrman's Romeo+Juliet (It's dreadfully acted and the play is hacked to pieces).

message 16: by Matthew (last edited Aug 05, 2010 11:11PM) (new)

Matthew | 91 comments Actually, Branagh is younger than several of the major 20th century Hamlets.

Olivier was 41
Burton was 39
Jacobi was 41
Gibson was 34
Williamson was 33

Branagh was 35. So, if he was way too old, then so was everyone else. Moreover, the point of the piece was to do everything Shakespeare put in the play. So, if you found it two hours too long (as are, presumably, Lawrence of Arabia and Gone With the Wind), the complaint must be addressed to Mr. Shakespeare, not Mr. Branagh.

I do agree that the Zeffirelli R&J is stunning in every respect. I like the Trevor Nunn Macbeth but I think Dench comes off far better than McKellen (he's fine but he's done better). But I must contest the notion that the play does not go beyond the notion that people suck. It serves as a warning against avarice and a reminder that great and heroic people are capable of falling from grace.

message 17: by Martin (new)

Martin | 14 comments Matthew -- thanks for that run down on ages of Hamlets. I am always so impressed with your detailed knowledge of actors and acting.

I think a director's view of which are the difficult plays to stage may well differ from an audience's view. A director once said to me that Twelfth Night is theoretically almost unstageable, because of the impossibility of casting identical twins of opposite sex. A surprising and interesting perspective, given the enduring popularity of this play.

Having recently read them, I think 2H6 and 3H6 (second and third parts of Henry VI) must be a headache to stage in their entirety, because the first play runs into the second without a break. By contrast, 2H6 can be watched separately from 1H6 and R3 from 3H6. Actually, I can't think of any other plays that do this, until you get to modern theatre. This must partly explain why the H6 trilogy is so rarely performed.

message 18: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 18 comments Matthew wrote: "Actually, Branagh is younger than several of the major 20th century Hamlets.

Olivier was 41
Burton was 39
Jacobi was 41
Gibson was 34
Williamson was 33

Branagh was 35. So, if he was way ..."

Yeah, I generally have a problem with all of the film Hamlets being too old. Hamlet is a graduate student going through a classic quarter life crisis. Personally, I feel like Hamlet should be played by a man in his mid to late twenties, or at least by someone who looks that young. Kenneth Branaugh, in my opinion, looked nearly 40 in his Hamlet.

I don't really feel that there's ever been a really, all around good film version of Hamlet. And with the Branaugh version, my complaint is with the director seeing as he chose not to cut any of the play. The most successful live performances of Hamlet that I've seen have cut the play down to 3 or 3 1/2 hours. Branaugh's Hamlet is nearly 5 hours long. In my opinion, it's just too much. There's a huge difference between watching a 5 hour play in the theatre and watching a 5 hour movie on screen. It's just too much all at once. There's also a huge difference between a long movie like Lawrence of Arabia and a movie like Hamlet. Lawrence of Arabia is full of action, where as Hamlet (especially Branaugh's) is a lot of standing around and talking, with very short bursts of intense action. That being said, the end fight in the Branaugh Hamlet is pretty awesome in every way.

I probably could have been more eloquent in saying that the message of Macbeth is simply that everyone sucks. The problems I have with Macbeth are similar to problems I have with Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus. It feels like, with those plays, violence only begets more violence. In a lot of productions of Macbeth, it feels like nothing is learned. What's also very tricky about Macbeth is the fact that Macbeth himself is a difficult character to get behind. He is a brutal and cruel man with very few redeeming qualities. One of the reasons I like Ian McKellen's Macbeth is that somehow, I felt he managed to get around that fact. Interestingly enough, I feel like there have been more successful productions/film versions of Macbeth than of Hamlet.

message 19: by Matthew (last edited Aug 08, 2010 06:12PM) (new)

Matthew | 91 comments Hi Martin! Good to "see" you. I know I haven't been around much.

Your point that a director's view of what is "difficult" may differ from an audience's is very good, very astute, and probably absolutely right... but it shouldn't be. A director's job is essentially to serve as a liaison between the playwright and the audience. If he cannot share the audience's perspective on the play, he does both them and the playwright a disservice. But this does, indeed, happen far more often than it should.

Speaking of perspectives:


You and I seem to have exceptionally different opinions more and more. The swordfight is one of the very few aspects of the Branagh Hamlet that I DON'T like and I certainly do not find it filled with people standing around. One of the things I love about it is that Branagh finds the action and plays it up. His use of the camera and his set pieces are very Leanesque.

The one disagreement between us that is a matter of fact (rather than a matter of taste) is on the Branagh film's length. It is exactly 4:02. Two minutes past the four-hour mark is hardly "nearly five hours". At this length, it runs 20 minutes longer than Lawrence and GWTW, both of which clock in at 3:42. It is also four minutes shorter than the BBC's uncut version of Richard III.

We also disagree more and more about Macbeth. Now I may be biased here because I've performed in the play twice (once as Banquo and once as Malcolm) and choreographed the fights once so the play is very close to my heart. Moreover, I learned a great deal from both productions so I must follow my own advice and try to see the audience's persepctive (rather than just my own) when it comes to learning from the play.

But I staunchly disagree with your character analysis of Macbeth. And, I am tempted to say, if you have come away from most productions with the impression that he was simply "a brutal and cruel man with very few redeeming qualities", then those productions were poorly acted and directed. To do the play justice, the artists must show Macbeth's heroism before he lapses into villainy.

Remember, Shakespeare's title for the piece is The Tragedy of Macbeth. If we are to take him, classically, at his word, we must approach the title character as a tragic hero whose descent into evil is regrettable, not only for his victims but for the great man he might have been had he chosen the better path.

If you know nothing of the play's reputation and go to your first production blind, your first encounter with Macbeth should be with a noble, patriotic, heroic general who has done his king a great service. Alas, he is also wrapped around his sexy newlywed wife's finger and therein begins his undoing.

The heart and soul of the play is the madness into which both Macbeth and his wife descend. They THOUGHT they could be brutal and cruel and be just fine about it. But they were not aware of their own consciences. And conscience (as Hamlet says) doth make cowards of us all.

message 20: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 06, 2010 09:41AM) (new)

Rebecca | 18 comments Matthew, I just don't see Macbeth as a purely heroic character. I've been in two productions (the first as Fleance, the second as Lady Macbeth). Macbeth, from the second scene as described by the bloody Sergeant, is a violent man. The way the sergeant describes how Macbeth treats his victims is extremely gruesome:

"Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix'd his head upon our battlements."

Talk about bloodlust! I suppose it can be argued that the world of Macbeth is inherently brutal and violent and that he is simply trying to be the best man possible under the circumstances. Nevertheless, Macbeth is a man capable of unspeakable violence and cruelty and that cannot be forgotten. When I played Lady M, my Macbeth played the role as a constant struggle with his own inner brutality, a struggle he inevitably loses.

I also don't see Lady Macbeth as an evil character, nor as the person who begins Macbeth's undoing. After Malcolm is named Prince of Cumberland Macbeth's response is thus:

The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. (Act I, Scene IV)

So the idea is in Macbeth's head before he gets home to his wife. Lady M, to me, is simply a woman who is a bit too in love with her husband, too eager to give him everything he desires. This is her tragic flaw. She does not condone the murders of Banquo and the Macduff family (which she in fact, actually knows nothing about). I feel like Lady Macbeth represents Macbeth's conscience in the latter half of the play. Once Macbeth kills Duncan, she is the one that tries to push him away from killing others. It is the weight of Lady M's conscience that inevitably drives her to madness, whereas I feel it is Macbeth's inability to conquer his inner demons that causes his.

In the end, the problem with Macbeth as a character is that he is a hero/villain, not an anti-hero or a tragic hero. I feel that he is closer to Iago or Aaron than he is to Brutus or Hamlet. I think it was Trevor Nunn who said that the Macbeths are like the Kennedys, which I think is spot on. Macbeth does terrible things but, in a successful production, he is still somehow likable. Very few actors and productions are able to communicate this effectively.

message 21: by Matthew (last edited Aug 08, 2010 06:12PM) (new)

Matthew | 91 comments Rebecca,

Okay, your arguments here are very good up to a point. But I protest the implication that I have claimed Macbeth to be a "purely" heroic character, as suggested in your opening sentence. He most certainly is not. Very few of Shakespeare's characters are "purely" anything. Their complexity (and, in some cases, contradictions) is what makes them so fun and so fascinating.

The Kennedy comparison is interesting. Let me offer another: Sweeney Todd. He starts out as Benjamin Barker, "a proper artist with a knife", but ends up murderous, cannibalistic, and bloodthirsty. The comparison is not 100% because Macbeth did not suffer the injustices that Barker did. But both are cases of the warping of a soul far less dark at the beginning than they had been at the end.

You are perfectly right that Macbeth is ambitious before he comes home to his wife. But I believe that he would have "fallen down" upon Malcolm's ascention to the princedom of Cumberland if his wife had not driven him further. The notion that the plotting of a regicide but attempts at dissuading the murders of Banquo and Macduff's family somehow vindicate Lady Macbeth makes murder sound like a numbers game. "But, Your Honor, I only plotted ONE murder. Please don't hang me!"

Macbeth has no lines half as black as:

"The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse."

She feels no struggle at all. Whether Macbeth inevitably loves his inner struggle is open to interpretation but Lady Mac has no qualms such as:

"He's here in double trust;
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other."

The most limited -- albeit valid -- argument here though is the observation of Macbeth's bloodthirstiness as depicted by the sergeant. Yes, it is gruesome. But this is not remotely unusual and probably comparatively tame next to many other generals of the time. Drawing and quartering, heads on spikes, etc. were par for the course in that part of the world as late as the early 18th century. The losing officers at the Battle of Collauden (sp?) suffered such a fate during the uprising of Bonny Prince Charlie. Indeed, this is what provoked the U.S. Constitution's provision against "cruel and unusual punishment." So, while your point about Macbeth's bloodlust at the opening is good, there is an element of "so what?" about it, given the situation.

By the way, out of curiosity, where did you do your productions? Mine were both in New Jersey.

message 22: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 06, 2010 12:46PM) (new)

Rebecca | 18 comments The first production I was in was with the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival and the second was with Young Company Theatre Camp at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA.

I think we might have to agree to disagree on this one. Macbeth is a multi-faceted, complex play and there's no one way to approach the characters and their motivations. Personally, I feel that is a mark of a great play. And it's why we're still performing it hundreds of years after the fact.

I think that this can be said of every Shakespeare play. Hell, companies are still performing Timon of Athens. So, difficult or not, they're all good, no matter how you look at the characters.

message 23: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 91 comments Ah, but this time we DO agree. It is, indeed, a multi-faceted, complex play. And it contains multi-faceted, complex charaters. You are right; that is the mark of a great play.

Personally, I can't stand Timon of Athens.

message 24: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 18 comments Yeah, Timon of Athens is pretty bad, though it does have a few terrific soliloquies.

message 25: by Martin (new)

Martin | 14 comments Rebecca's "violence only begets more violence" is what I was finding in Richard iii. See

post 52

message 26: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 91 comments I am suddenly reminded of a former teacher of mine drawing a parallel to Mark Twain's famous quote about "Once you tell one lie, you have to keep telling lies in order to keep up with yourself." He pointed out that Macbeth has discovered the same problem in terms of murder. He has to keep committing murders in order to keep up with himself. By the time Young Siward shows up, Macbeth has frankly become bored with the whole thing. The leading actor in the production where I played Malcolm played his "Thou wast born of woman" line (upon young Siward's death) as a tired throw-away. It worked beautifully.

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