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message 1: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments Random question:

In Act I, Banquo makes a big deal out of housemartins roosting all over Inverness. Is that a bad omen or something?


message 2: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments A good omen, actually (oops): "a lucky bird: it's said that any house it builds its nest on is forever blessed with happiness." (Double oops.)


message 3: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments Tracey wrote: "A good omen, actually (oops): "a lucky bird: it's said that any house it builds its nest on is forever blessed with happiness." (Double oops.)"

Thanks, Tracey. It's weird to me that it switches from good omens to owls and curses just a few pages later. In fact, the whole play seems to be in overdrive. These are not the slow-burn character conflicts that I'm accustomed to from Othello and Julius Caesar.

I have two more questions:

1. My edition (Folger) puts an umlaut over the i in Weird (as in Weird Sisters). So is it a two syllable word? Is it "we/ird" to rhyme with he/bird?

2. In Act I, Lady Macbeth vividly claims that she has "given suck" and understands the bond between a mother and a baby. Then, in Act IV, Macduff has that ambiguous line "He has no children." The side note in my edition says he could be referring to either Malcolm or Macbeth. How is that possible? Is Macbeth a father?


message 4: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments Message 3: It's weird to me that it switches from good omens ...

Original spelling of Banquo's bird is Barlet. Most editors change it to Marlet. Barlet is closer to Batlet [t/r]. Letter t and r are mixed several times in the First Folio:
- And raste/taste [t/r] Lord Timon's bounty: (Timon)
- Prove true imagination, oh prove ttue/true [r/t], (Twelfth Night)
- therfote/therefore [r/t] you must needs play Pyramus. (Midsummer)
- ...

Batlet indicates small bat. This reading reasons many dark scenes in Macbeth:
- Lady Macbeth is a witch.
- She milks a baby bat, dashes its brains out (a riddle),
- makes a drink of the bat's brains for Macbeth, and
- transfers her witchcraft with bat's nature to Macbeth,
- so that he can be evil enough to murder Duncan.
- Macbeth starts to fear light and noise.
- Night gives him dark power.
- He is the third murtherer (a riddle).
- He keeps a bat ("a servant feed") in every house of his thanes, as Michael Drayton's "The black-eyed Bat, the watch-man of the night."
- He owns the power to find the Weyward or Weyard Sisters. Weyward is close to wayward (pervese or wrong judgment).
- ...
- He dies in loudness. MACDUFF: "Make all our Trumpets speak, give them all breath Those clamorous Harbingers of Blood, and Death." MACBETH: "They have tied me to a stake, I cannot fly."

LADY MACBETH.
Come to my Woman's Breasts,
And take my Milk for Gall, you murthering Ministers,


message 5: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments JimF wrote: "LADY MACBETH.
Come to my Woman's Breasts,
And take my Milk for Gall, you murthering Ministers, ."


I took this quote to mean that LM is summoning the forces of evil, specifically the willpower to commit murder. You are arguing that she was breastfeeding bats?

In Act I, Scene 7, she says, "I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me.
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this."

I took that part to refer to a human baby, but you are suggesting that it is a bat?


message 6: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments I took this quote to mean that LM is summoning the forces of evil, specifically the willpower to commit murder. You are arguing that she was breastfeeding bats?

This riddle is arranged in sequence:
- Lady Macbeth heard of Duncan's visit.
- She casts a spell ("Come you Spirits, ... take my Milk for Gall") to summon the evil power into her milk.
- She prepares a witchcraft drink ("dashed the brains out") using a bat as medium of the evil power.
- She explains (to us) how a drink may affect the brain, "the Warder of the Brain, Shall be a Fume, and the Receipt of Reason A Limbeck only."
- Macbeth's line "Bring forth Men-Children only" is a hint.

I took that part to refer to a human baby, but you are suggesting that it is a bat?

Yes. I consider bat is a better reading than human baby. With today's technology, we can visualize those lines on a big screen (other dark scenes too); bat is more reasonable. Macbeth is called Mackbeth or Makbeth in Holinshed's Chronicles. The movie can be called, Make-bats.


message 7: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments Interesting! I have never heard anything of this line of thought, and I don't think I've ever seen a production that went that way. I don't think I've ever seen a bat used in a production ... I always read it as meaning the Macbeths had had a child, a son, and he is now dead. It's an interpretation that adds a real gut-punch to the story, an avenue to have had some sympathy with the two of them (until they go too far to be sympathetic at all). It's like the thin end of the wedge of Macbeth's madness - overwhelming grief curdled and festered and folded in with ambition and jealousy and resentment...

The whole issue of Banquo being the father of kings is much much sharper, if Macbeth had a child and doesn't anymore. Why should Macbeth have gone through all of this only to gift the throne to Banquo’s get? Macbeth has no child; it's usually spun that it's too late for him and Lady Macbeth to have any; it's an easy jump from that to the poisonous jealousy and paranoia that makes him have Banquo killed .

There are several more places where this interpretation can be used to deepen and inform a performance, to my mind - and now I want to go watch all the performances I have to talk about them, but I can't.

But I can go back and pull things from my blog about productions:

I do know that was one of the only things I liked about the Michael Fassbender-Marion Cotillard film, that it pointed something up: Macbeth killed men with sons. Of course, in this version it is inserted that the Macbeths lost a son just before the tale began, a toddler; and though he is not listed as such in the credits and of course nothing is said, it certainly seems as though the featured boy soldier going into battle at the beginning was another son, killed in battle.

Usually the line “He has no children”, from the scene in which Macduff learns the fate of his wife and children, is directed to refer to Rosse, if that’s who delivered the news, or Malcolm – Rosse: “Buck up, man!” Macduff: “Well, clearly, he has no children, to be able to say something so stupid”. Here, though, it seems to refer to Macbeth, and could mean all sorts of things. He has no sons… He has no heir; he hates anyone who does have sons; he wants to destroy those who have what he no longer does.

I'm going to have to go back and listen to the episodes of Chop Bard that pertain.


message 8: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments several more places where this interpretation can be used to deepen ... e.g.:

Weyward Sisters

"None of woman borne shall harm Macbeth" is from Weyward Sisters in Shakespeare; but in Holinshed it's from a witch Makbeth "had in great trust." How Macbeth can find the cave of Weyward Sisters is questionable. A scene of bats locating them can solve this.

Servant Feed

Holinshed: "Makbeth had in every noble man's house, one sly fellow or other in fee with him."
Shakespeare: "There's not a one of them but in his house I keep a Servant Feed."
"Servant Feed" is normally edited to "Servant Fee'd"; however, feed can be a noun (attributive, like "Servant Monster" or "Peasant slave"), which makes bats Macbeth's servants. A scene of bats reporting to Macbeth presents the spying finer.

Third Murtherer

In Shakespeare, Banquo is killed before the banquet; in Holinshed, after. The difference is light. ("The West yet glimmers with some streaks of Day" ... "A Light, a Light.") In full darkness, Macbeth may transform to a bat and fly to the banquet faster than the first murtherer. This won't be the only solution for the third murtherer, but consistent with the bat witchcraft.

"O, full of Scorpions [scenes] is my Mind."—Macbeth


message 9: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments Tracey wrote: "Usually the line “He has no children”, from the scene in which Macduff learns the fate of his wife and children, is directed to refer to Rosse, if that’s who delivered the news, or Malcolm – Rosse: “Buck up, man!” Macduff: “Well, clearly, he has no children, to be able to say something so stupid”. Here, though, it seems to refer to Macbeth, and could mean all sorts of things. He has no sons… He has no heir; he hates anyone who does have sons; he wants to destroy those who have what he no longer does."

This is part of my confusion. I initially read the line to refer to Ross, but the side notes said that it referred to Macbeth.


message 10: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments Phil wrote: "This is part of my confusion. I initially read the line to refer to Ross, but the side notes said that it referred to Macbeth.
..."


MACDUFF
My children too?
ROSS
Wife, children, servants, all
That could be found.
MACDUFF
And I must be from thence!
My wife kill'd too?
ROSS
I have said.
MALCOLM
Be comforted:
Let's make us medicines of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.
MACDUFF
He has no children.

There's no stage direction, and either Malcolm or Ross can easily be the "he", depending on the director. It takes a little more effort, I guess you could say, to make the audience recognize that Macduff is referring to Macbeth...

Heck, if you really wanted to you could make the "he" mean Macduff himself. Having had them all slaughtered, he has no children... (I actually kind of like that.)


message 11: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments Yeah, I originally read it as referring to Malcolm, as in only a person with no kids would expect you to get over it and go to war that quickly.


message 12: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel | 172 comments This scene is also very interesting for other reasons. In his 'How many children had Lady Macbeth' essay LCKnights says that Malcolm here is just 'choric', not a real character:
'The conversation between Macduff and Malcolm has never been adequately explained... its main function is choric commentary (on the evil carried out by Macbeth).... He has ceased to be a person. His lines repeat and magnify the evils that have already been attributed to Macbeth...There is no other way in which the scene can be read (sic!)... There are only two alternatives: either Shakespeare was a bad dramatist, or his critics have been badly misled by mistaking the dramatis personae for real persons in this scene.' I think Knights is wrong about this. As well as testing Macduff's loyalty, Malcolm is revealing himself as a young idealist so confident of his own virtues that he thinks he couldn't possibly really become like Macbeth. Macduff is confused not only by the 'test' but, as an older and guilt-ridden person, by being aware that Malcolm can't possibly be that sure. We have seen plenty of young revolutionaries violently angry with old tyrants then gradually turning into them.


message 13: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments The three witches have beards in Shakespeare. Movies today avoid that. Less important, but we could have more fun by not wasting the lines.

BANQUO.
you should be Women,
And yet your Beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.

Lady Macbeth should be a woman, but when she casts her spell,

"Come you Spirits,
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, ..."

her beards appear right after "unsex me" (one way to vision unsex). Let the four witches have similar beards; audience can catch that, and, this is the true Shakespeare.


message 14: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments "LCKnights ... The conversation between Macduff and Malcolm has never been adequately explained."

Holinshed spent many lines in this conversation. Shakespeare just followed him. What's not in Holinshed is the death of Macduff's wife and children, which deepens the hatred. This could be avoided if his wife would listen to the messenger who comes to warn her.

[Enter a Messenger.]
MESSENGER.
Bless you fair Dame: I am not to you known,
Though in your state of Honour I am perfect;
I doubt some danger does approach you nearly.
If you will take a homely man's advice,
Be not found here: Hence with your little ones
To fright you thus. Methinks I am too savage:
To do worse to you
, were fell Cruelty,
Which is too nie your person. Heaven preserve you,
I dare abide no longer.
[Exit Messenger.]

The messenger can be Lady Macbeth (similar to the third murtherer) with beards in the "unsex me" scene. This connects also her sleep-walking, for Macduff's wife is mentioned, a clue to solve the messenger's identity.

LADY MACBETH.
The Thane of Fife, had a wife: where is she now?
What will these hands never be clean?
No more of that my Lord, no more of that:
you mar all with this starting.

A detective fiction sleep-walking 400 years?


message 15: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel | 172 comments Fascinating idea that the messenger to Lady Macduff might be Lady Macbeth. Is that feasible geographically? And do we know whether Macduff is the Thane of Fife? i had thought Lady M was talking about herself as the Thane of Fife's wife.
But one query about the punctuation in your quotation. Doesn't
'To fright you thus methinks I am too savage.'
make better sense as a single sentence (as it is in my copy)
- and a more rhythmic balance to the next line?


message 16: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments Fascinating idea that the messenger to Lady Macduff might be Lady Macbeth. Is that feasible geographically?

According to Holinshed and Shakespeare, Macbeth's castle is situated in Glamis (Angus), Macduff in East Wemyss (Fife). I'm not sure about the exact distance. If it's not farfetched, has more fun visually, gives reason for the sudden messenger and his odd lines, then I think it's feasible. It can cope with the third murtherer too.

And do we know whether Macduff is the Thane of Fife?

I think we can from Shakespeare:

FIRST APPARITION.
Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth:
Beware Macduff,
Beware the Thane of Fife:

And Holinshed: "At the last, when the turn fell unto Makduffe thane of Fife to build his part."

But one query about the punctuation in your quotation.

I follow the First Folio. It somehow allows two different readings. I don't think the audience can catch these wordplays of Macbeth in a theater. Some lines are for readers. I try to visualize them, e.g. bats flying around while Banquo is talking about Barlet/Batlet in the evening (another dark omen).

Mes.
Blesse you faire Dame: I am not to you known,
Though in your state of Honor I am perfect;
I doubt some danger do's approach you neerely.
If you will take a homely mans aduice,
Be not found heere: Hence with your little ones
To fright you thus. Me thinkes I am too sauage:
To do worse to you, were fell Cruelty,
Which is too nie your person. Heauen preserue you,
I dare abide no longer.


message 17: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments How many ways can Lady Macbeth die? (I need a fancy title.)

The cause of her death isn't specified in the play, which gives us room to figure that out by ourselves ("as 'tis thought"). I gather some key lines for easy tracing.

1. Her last presence in the sleep-walking: "all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."

2. The mystic "She should have died hereafter." If we trust this line, then Lady Macbeth isn't dead; she will live hereafter tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

3. Malcolm's comments on her death:
MALCOLM.
... his Fiend-like Queen;
Who (as 'tis thought) by self and violent hands,
Took off her life.

4. Her doctor's foretelling: "This disease is beyond my practice: yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep, who have died holily in their beds. ... [to bed, to bed ...] More needs she the Divine, than the Physician."

Lady Macbeth can never clean her hands subconsciously, so she takes them off in her sleep-walking, and that takes off her life. It's another way to clean hands, to purify her by "the Divine" and to "have died holily" in bed. After all, she kills no one in this play herself except a baby bat. ("Had he not resembled my Father as he slept, I had done it.") I think a witch can find fancy ways to rid hands.

One thing may affirm this. The term "violent hands" appears five times in Shakespeare, two in Titus Andronicus, where rapers cut off Lavinia's two hands, and her father kills her.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS.
Fie brother fie, teach her not thus to lay
Such violent hands upon her tender life.

TITUS ANDRONICUS.
How now! Has sorrow made thee dote already?
Why Marcus, no man should be mad but I:
What violent hands can she lay on her life:
Ah, wherefore dost thou urge the name of hands, ...

This explains wherefore Malcolm would urge the name of hands, "by self and violent hands, took off her life."


message 18: by Tim (new)

Tim Horwood Macbeth's castle is situated in Glamis (Angus)
http://www.glamis-castle.co.uk/

Macduff's Castle
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macduff...

It's about 43 miles between the two. A 12 hour walk according to Google. Only 4 hours by bike!


message 19: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments And therefore somewhere in between by horse!


message 20: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel | 172 comments Or horse, presumably. Not that Shakespeare was bothered much by distances. Puck goes round the world in a couple of minutes, but then, he's a spirit. Posthumus in Cymbeline gets from ancient Britasin to Rome again without any difficulty. More down to earth, I tried to work out once how long it would have taken Shakespeare to get from London to Stratford on Avon, to see how likely it was he would have commuted. Someone said three days by horse - a bit too long to go home for weekends, rather scotching the recent theory that he may have spent a good deal of his working life there rather than in London.


message 21: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments Thanks for the links and figures, Tim.

Tracey: And therefore somewhere in between by horse!

Horse sounds good, or something can suit an elegant Witch who tries to save Macduff's family (so she can die holily in bed later).

In Thomas Middleton's The Witch, witches sing "Come away, come away" while flying in the air.

WITCHES.
Come away, come away,
Hecate, Hecate, come away.

HECATE.
I come, I come, I come, I come,
With all the speed I may,
With all the speed I may, ...

This song has only title in Macbeth; however, it gives us reason to let Lady Macbeth fly, so that she can be faster than the murtherers after she saw their departing. The song title may just for that purpose, I wonder.


message 22: by Cynda (last edited Jan 25, 2018 11:23PM) (new)

Cynda Phil wrote: "Random question:

In Act I, Banquo makes a big deal out of housemartins roosting all over Inverness. Is that a bad omen or something?"


Hi Phil. Tracey explains the birds at Inverness in Message 2. Her interpretation fits well. More troubling for me is the bird reference in Act I, scene ii, lines 36-37. When getting a battle report from the captain, Duncan wants to know how MacBeth and Duncan responded to the Norwegian lord's receiving reinforcements.

Duncan asks: Dismayed not this our captains , Macbeth and Banquo?
Captain responds: Yes, as sparrows, eagles, or the hare the lion.

I am reading Bevington who does not gloss those lines. Maybe someone else's edition of the play(s) gives a gloss here?


message 23: by Cynda (new)

Cynda I am reading and watching a 1978 movie production of the Scottish play with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench who are so great as Shakespearean actors. I take turns reading and watching and re-reading and re-watching. As with many movie productions, lines are missing from the scene. The communication of the strangeness of the sisters come across and the evil made clear by the screaming witches at the beginning of the movie as they open the earth/stare in a well? and engage in a communal vision.

In reading Bevington's essay preceding the play, I am reminded of how evil works. Evil made manifest by desires and mis-dreams and mis-goals. What comes to mind: Be careful what you wish for.


message 24: by Cynda (new)

Cynda Got it: The exchange between Duncan and Captain where sparrows and eagles (and hares) dismay lions. This exchange can be used as a clue to understand the reference to housemartins at Inverness. The references to birds work together.


message 25: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments Cynda wrote: "I am reading and watching a 1978 movie production of the Scottish play with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench who are so great as Shakespearean actors. ..."

That production is amazing.


message 26: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel | 172 comments Duncan asks: Dismayed not this our captains , Macbeth and Banquo?
Captain responds: Yes, as sparrows, eagles, or the hare the lion.

I think this is sarcastic. It means that Macbeth and Banquo were not dismayed -
ie 'Weren't they dismayed by the strength of the enemy?
'Oh, sure, about as much as sparrrows dismay eagles or hares dismay lions'


message 27: by Cynda (new)

Cynda Tracey wrote: "Cynda wrote: "I am reading and watching a 1978 movie production of the Scottish play with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench who are so great as Shakespearean actors. ..."

That production is amazing."


:-) Yes. The leads are so strong.


message 28: by Cynda (new)

Cynda Gabriel wrote: "Duncan asks: Dismayed not this our captains , Macbeth and Banquo?
Captain responds: Yes, as sparrows, eagles, or the hare the lion.

I think this is sarcastic. It means that Macbeth and Banquo were..."


Oh. Of course. Thanks Gabriel :-)


message 29: by Cynda (last edited Jan 28, 2018 02:34PM) (new)

Cynda Once I have read a play once or twice, I start to look at the words/rhetoric chosen. Likely Shakespeare receieved a grammar school education where he would have learned the basics of rhetoric. As a poet-playwright Shakespeare had plenty of opportunity to put his 16th-century basic education to use.

When I read Act 1, the witches, those who should be women, the instruments of darkness, the wierd sisters. Repition of an idea/Near Synonyms of witches.

Last night I read Act 2.
Shakespeare waxes poetic in use of repition of words and images and ideas.
That which is used to announce: Bell, trumpet alarm-bell, cries of MacDuff.
That which indicates instruments of killing: Dagger, sword, handle, blade.
Even when not directly mentioning instruments of killing: cleave.
When MacBeth tells Banquo in scene i:
If you shall cleave to my consent, when 'tis
It shall make an honor for you.

I have circled many more words in my copy.


message 30: by Cynda (new)

Cynda Read Act 4
Love the Symmetry.
MacBeth and MacDuff become more committed.
MacBeth committs to less witchcraft and more action.
MacDuff commits to convincing Malcolm and the commits himself to Scotland.
An arch within a single act.
!Bravo Shakespeare!


message 31: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments What writes Lady Macbeth in her sleepwalking?

GENTLEWOMAN.
Since his Majesty went into the Field,
I have seen her rise from her bed,
throw her Night-Gown upon her,
unlock her Closet, take forth paper,
fold it, write upon it, read it,
afterwards Seal it,
and again return to bed;
yet all this while in a most fast sleep.

Why Shakespeare put these lines here? They match the monologue after Lady Macbeth's death: "She should have died hereafter ... Player ... Stage." It talks about the immortality of a playwright's work after the body's death.

This Dark Lady seals her writings, possibly, the Tragedy of Macbeth or sonnets, with her dark-as-Night Gown.


message 32: by Cynda (last edited Jan 30, 2018 05:27PM) (new)

Cynda JimF wrote: "What writes Lady Macbeth in her sleepwalking?

GENTLEWOMAN.
Since his Majesty went into the Field,
I have seen her rise from her bed,
throw her Night-Gown upon her,
unlock her Closet, take forth pa..."


A good question JimF. I never have thought to ask it because I have always assumed it was traditional women's writing--journal, diary, letter. And to that a confession written in those formats. So a working out in a diary what she did and what she can do to alleviate her pain. She can tell no one the truth except herself and God. We have already seen at the dinner how her husband is no longer as interested in her input. So she has writing to Someone/Something, writing that never helps her find a solution and writing cannot be seen by anyone else.


message 33: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments Cynda: A good question ...

Some questions may be interesting too, for fun:
1. Why is Lady Macbeth, not her husband, received King Duncan at the gate?
2. Why Macduff tells Rosse he will to Fife, but flies to England instead?
3. Are we sure Macbeth's castle is in Inverness, not Glamis?

For the last one, this map and text about Macbeth can be helpful:
http://www.shakespearethenovels.co.uk...


message 34: by Cynda (new)

Cynda JimF wrote: "Cynda: A good question ...

Some questions may be interesting too, for fun:
1. Why is Lady Macbeth, not her husband, received King Duncan at the gate?
2. Why Macduff tells Rosse he will to Fife, bu..."



Hi JimF. Way past midnight here. I do want to answer question 3. Google "Cawdor Castle Wikipedia". The last section: Shakespeare connection. You may find an answer there.

I will likely be busy until tomorrow evening. I will attempt to answer your questions then.

Others will likely help you out as well.

Goodnight/Good very early morning.


message 35: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments David Blixt and Jan Blixt have a theory that I love: ""The first half of "Tomorrow, and tomorrow" is Lady Macbeth's suicide note. The second half is [Macbeth's] reaction to it, starting with a shared line." And that's what she's writing, over and over, until she finally goes that extra step to take her life.

This is one of the essays here:
Tomorrow & Tomorrow by Jan Blixt


message 36: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments Tracey: This is one of the essays here:

Thanks Tracey. Their "Tomorrow, and tomorrow" is a good setting for stage. I believe the audience can catch that, or some of that.

The view may be different for readers who can go through words with more time; e.g., the meaning of last Syllable of the Recorded time, the identity of the Fools and Idiot.

Macduff isn't a good man for he deserts his family. It took me some time to find the evidence Shakespeare left for us. Verifying vague words can change things.


message 37: by Cynda (new)

Cynda Tracey wrote: "David Blixt and Jan Blixt have a theory that I love: ""The first half of "Tomorrow, and tomorrow" is Lady Macbeth's suicide note. The second half is [Macbeth's] rea..."

Thanks Tracey :-)


message 38: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments Message 31: What writes Lady Macbeth in her sleepwalking? ... possibly, the Tragedy of Macbeth ...

She writes what she says in her sleepwalking.

In the sleepwalking scene, the gentlewoman tells the doctor how Lady Macbeth writes and reads. This part has only gentlewoman's descriptions, and then the two watch what the Lady acts in her sleepwalking.

This splitting is a hint, that the Lady is writing what she acts, or more precisely, what she says in her sleepwalking:

– murder of Duncan, "Hell is murky. ... so much blood";
– saving Macduff's wife, "Thane of Fife had a wife ... no more of that";
– Banquo's ghost, "Banquo's buried; he cannot come out on's grave";
– her own death, "To bed, to bed: there's knocking at the gate," which is the way to the Porter's hell.

Lady Macbeth is writing her confession and the play script of Macbeth the same time. This reading doesn't change the play's scheme, and allows more lines to be reasoned and visualized.

This can explain deeper why Shakespeare added following lines ("noted weed"). The doctor and the Lady are doing the same thing.
DOCTOR.
Hark, she speaks,
I will set down what comes from her,
to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.



message 39: by JimF (last edited Feb 10, 2018 08:53PM) (new)

JimF | 197 comments Why is Lady Macbeth receiving King Duncan at the gate?

The best way to solve this is to build some pictures and combine them in the right sequence. The first picture:

LADY MACBETH.
... Had he not resembled
My Father as he slept, I had done it.

This line says the Lady had seen Duncan "as he slept," so we have one picture that she stands beside Duncan's bed.


message 40: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments ***
Banquo meets Macbeth and gives him a diamond from Duncan to greet Macbeth's wife. Normally Duncan should give the diamond directly. A picture of Duncan asking Banquo to hand over the diamond can be built.
BANQUO.
This Diamond he greets your Wife withal,
By the name of most kind Hostess, ...

***
Macbeth left the banquet early than his king and wife, quite unusual for a host to serve an honorable guest.
LADY MACBETH.
He has almost supped: why have you left the chamber?

MACBETH.
Hath he asked for me?

***
We can assume Lady Macbeth and her gentlewomen come with wine and wassail to Duncan's chamberlains, for the Lady had seen Duncan's face as he slept. It's not normal that they would drink on duty hours guarding the king.
LADY MACBETH.
... his two Chamberlains
Will I with Wine, and Wassail, so convince,
That Memory, the Warder of the Brain,
Shall be a Fume, ...



message 41: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments This dialogue provides the major clue for the reason of Lady Macbeth receiving King Duncan at the gate:

BANQUO. ... who's there?
MACBETH. A Friend.
BANQUO.
What Sir, not yet at rest? the King's abed. [1]
He hath been in unusual Pleasure,
And sent forth great Largess to your Offices. [3]
This Diamond he greets your Wife withal,
By the name of most kind Hostess, [5]
And shut up in measureless content.

Line 6's shut up has the definition of to bring to an end with. Duncan is abed after unusual pleasure, and ended in measureless content served by the most kind Hostess. Duncan sleeps Macbeth's wife. This can be affirmed by Macbeth's lines:

MACBETH.
... thus with his stealthy pace,
With Tarquin's ravishing sides, towards his design
Moves like a Ghost.

Some editions change sides to strides for easy reading, but that still can't explain the use of Tarquin. Tarquin is the antonomasia of a guest who rapes his hostess (The Rape of Lucrece). Side has the definition of support and subsidiary.

Here the hostess is Lady Macbeth, the guest is Duncan, but Macbeth supports his wife to seduce Duncan. Besides the omen, Macbeth has a side reason to kill Duncan.

Lady Macbeth receives Duncan at the gate is the beginning of seducing. Macbeth avoids Duncan (at the gate and in the banquet) to give them chances. This reading can reason those unusual arrangements related to Lady Macbeth.


message 42: by Cynda (new)

Cynda Hi JimF. Thank you for questions and answers. They really help.


message 43: by Lucinda (last edited Feb 14, 2018 03:15AM) (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Hello, everyone. My goodness, a stirring discussion has begun already, with fascinating comments from everyone.

This makes it more infuriating that my PC may have to go in to be serviced (no pun intended about Duncan and Lady Macbeth's possible sexual peccadillos) and for two days - and the library - my only other access to getting online - closes on Wednesday afternoon and all of Thursday. I will anyway be back on Friday, from the library, very likely...

That's interesting about does Lady Macbeth seduce Duncan? Does Macbeth play the complaisant husband? I may be being obtuse, but what would he gain by it? Duncan already feels safe enough in the castle because Macbeth fought valiantly on his side against the other rebel.

There may well be a good politic reason which I have missed.

My only original comment so far about further on in the play, is about the 'I have given suck' famous lines of Lady Macbeth. The edition I have, which frankly isn't very good for discussion, makes little of this. But after all, in Mediaeval times, unfortunately, the death rate of babies was high, and Lady Macbeth and Macbeth may have recently had a baby who died. This may have been common, but still had a strong emotional effect on the mother, and is this the explanation for her extraordinarily savage behaviour?

It is not as if Macbeth thinks that they are unlikely to have more, though, as he makes that speech about how such a woman should bring forth only boys.

The whole business about the superstition about speaking the name 'Macbeth' and saying 'The Scottish Play' instead, except in acting, in the theatre is interesting. Some even go to the extent of saying that Shakespeare borrowed a curse from witches, who then cursed him.

Far fetched stuff indeed. No doubt my PC breaking down twice has to do with the curse...

It has been suggested that it is more likely that the church started that rumour to give credence to the current witch trials, and that if financial misfortunes happened to a theatre staging the play it was because they were losing money already, and so staged the play as a crowed drawer.

In the first scene, the witches obviously set the sinister tone. They state ambiguously that they will meet again: 'When the battle's lost and won,' that they will meet Macbeth, and that 'Fair is foul, and foul is fair'.

As usual with Shakespeare, he really gets on with the action at once, with the witches flying off : 'Hover through fog and filthy air' and the second scene beginning with a 'bloody sergeant' staggering in from the fighting between the forces in support of Duncan and the usurper Macdonwald's supporters, praising Macbeth's outstanding valour.

It has been suggested that Shakespeare had to change the original source of the King of Denmark to the King of Norway, so as not to offend him.


message 44: by JimF (new)

JimF | 197 comments Glad that can help, Cynda.

Lucinda: That's interesting about does Lady Macbeth seduce Duncan? Does Macbeth play the complaisant husband? I may be being obtuse, but what would he gain by it? Duncan already feels safe enough in the castle because Macbeth fought valiantly on his side against the other rebel.

There are some scenes being docked (curtailed) in the play, a Shakespearean way to seal a riddle, e.g. Lady Macbeth bringing the wine and wassail to Duncan's guards, the Lady watching the sleeping Duncan, etc.

By rebuilding them, we can make a short film of the crime with more details, and see whether the Lady's sexual sacrifice is needed or not. Let's wait for your PC and start again in the new threads.

Those who knew the Lady was alone in Duncan's chamber must die.


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