Lady Macbeth’s Poison

In Shakespeare’s Tragedy Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is the strongest force of evil. Although Macbeth carries out the regicide and subsequent bloodshed, we are reminded of his reluctance when he asserts, “If chance will have me King, why chance may crown me without my stir.”

Macbeth possessed grandiose delusions yet harbored little organic intent of committing acts of Treason to achieve it.

It was Lady Macbeth that coalesced Macbeth’s imagination into a harrowing and damning reality.

Macbeth would have proved most royal [just like Hamlet would have] had Certain Things Gone Differently, [but that’s a debate of Fate Vs. Self-Will].

Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth to the hilt. She ridicules his lack of masculinity [after coming back bravely from battle with heaps of honors: go figure].

Lady Macbeth makes the utterly shocking mind-boggling comment how she would dash the brains out of her own child before she would act as emasculated as she deemed Macbeth to be in showing hesitation with the murder of King Duncan: {I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this}.

Henceforth, we get a sense that this woman harbors a malevolent and dangerously determined sense of ambition all her own. Lady Macbeth corrupts “The noblest [{not} Roman] of them all.”

Think back to the outset; when the sergeant lauds Macbeth’s bravery in battle: “Brave Macbeth, well he deserves that name.” Macbeth was doing great; everything was peachy, but two major things went awry:

One; meeting the, “weird sisters.”

Two; writing his infamous & prophetic letter to Lady Macbeth which consequently fed her gormandized thirst for the crown.

The “weird sisters” were certainly a legitimate force of evil, but Macbeth had the sense to put regicide into perspective; even after his mind roams to regal aspirations he concedes, “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent.”

He even sternly commands Lady Macbeth that he has decided not to go through with the bloody deed. e.g. We will proceed no further in this business.

He wants to enjoy his new title that he rightfully earned, basking in his new honors; but Lady Macbeth is resolute in her wickedness to pollute his mind with her plethoras of perniciousness.

Macbeth knows no way to defend against Lady Macbeth’s derision and mockery. She knows how Macbeth’s mind operates “to the ‘T’” and she knows exactly which buttons to push; he is utterly helpless against her stinging upbraidings and falls victim to her cunningly persuasive rhetoric {who dares receive it other as we shall make our griefs and clamour roar upon his death}.

Lady Macbeth knows her power over him full well and shakes his resolve like the consummate temptress she is {just as Eve tempted Adam and caused the fall of man}.

She is the Serpent hidden under Macbeth’s very nose, and once bitten; there is no antidote.

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Coriolanus


“We had rather be the oppressor than the oppressed.”—William Hazlitt

A pot of boiling water will only boil for so long until it spills over. People only withstand being abused for so long until they take a stand. “There’s no more to be said but he [Coriolanus] is banish’d, as enemy to the people and his country. It shall be so.”

Coriolanus was a brilliant warrior and defended his country brilliantly, yet he had no respect for the common people. He had much pride in himself and to an extent rightly so; but Coriolanus took it too far.

He saw the people as weak fickle minds and not as citizens of the country he loved and fought for; Rome. He didn’t understand or appreciate the value of offering even the slightest sense of cordiality; this is what engendered his strife. He failed to realize that:

Pride is an ugly canker that eats up all the rosy joys of victory.

Brutus and Sicinius, two tribunes who were fed up with Coriolanus’ pride, incite Coriolanus into a tirade which ultimately results in his banishment; a cautionary tale in regards to the importance of the virtue temperance.

In reflective solitude, Coriolanus offers the poignant remark, “I shall be loved when I am lacked.” A sentiment that we all hope rings true when we make our final departure.

Although Coriolanus isn’t humble in any sense of the word, I do admire that Coriolanus is genuine with us. He doesn’t disguise how he truly feels; he puts his philosophy out there for each to discern, and that takes courage.

He was not a tyrant trying to make others his pawns; he fought bravely on the front lines and defended his country successfully at Corioli; earning the magnanimous title of Coriolanus. He may have talked the talk but he had the battle scars and accolades to back it up, yet he was cocky and fell victim to pride.

The tribunes knew Coriolanus’ and the peoples’ disposition to the letter; exactly which buttons to push, and they manipulate the way to their objective with a masterly prowess all their own.

It is the tribunes’ politics of manipulating the already frustrated commonalty for their own partisan agenda that makes Coriolanus’ world so ripe for tragedy.

Rome would have been in a world of hurt if a mediocre soldier, that, [contrarily to Coriolanus], flattered the people, replaced our tragic hero.

Part of the tragedy of this play lies in that even after Coriolanus is banished and afterwards defects to the Volsces, he ultimately presents a strong case for redemption by signing an official Truce, preventing the ruin & destruction of his native homeland, saving the very people that turned their back on him.

Coriolanus is murdered as Aufidius deemed this [Truce] humiliating to his army and all that he stood for.

Why is Coriolanus our tragic hero?

The people of Rome turned their back on Coriolanus, but he, in the end, refused to turn his back on them.

Homo-Erotic Desire In “The Two Gentleman of Verona”

Critic Harold Bloom shows much frustration that, “Everything is amiss in the Two Gentlemen,” and that, “Shakespeare could not of cared less,” [about this comedy]. I attribute this sentiment not to Shakespeare’s writing but to Bloom’s superficial interpretation of it.

The most colossal mistakes of interpretation come at the end of the play; two lines which baffle most critics; spoken by Valentine to Proteus:

“And that my love may appear plain and free, all that was mine in Silvia I give thee.”

Most take this to mean Valentine is offering his lover Silvia to Proteus. Looking at the lines closer, while keeping Shakespeare’s typical bawdy undertones in mind, Valentine isn’t offering Silvia to Proteus; he’s offering himself to Proteus!

After all, wouldn’t he consider his mentula something that certainly was [his]…which was “INSilvia, that he could “GIVE” to Proteus. And what would make Julia swoon more than her Proteus perhaps looking into Valentine’s eyes, sharing a moment of homo-erotic desire!

Notwithstanding, some critics also have a problem with a line that Proteus later says:

“What is in Silvia ‘s face, but I may spy more fresh in Julia’s, with a constant eye?”

Bloom refers to this as, “Proteus’ Pragmatism,” drawing a shallow conclusion that Proteus feels like, “Any woman will do as well as another.” This is the exact opposite of Proteus’ meaning.

Proteus [finally] sees that beauty is amplified by faithfulness and mitigated in its absence, expressing this in a kind of epiphany, insinuating a metamorphosis from ficklety to loyalty.

The Speech That Sums It All Up In “The Two Noble Kinsmen”

If the epilogue to the Tempest is Shakespeare’s official farewell to the theatre, then the last speech of TTNK (not including the epilogue strongly presumed to be authored by Fletcher) is Shakespeare’s ultimate farewell of farewells; it is likely that, other than his will, it is the last thing he wrote. It is a speech that ranks as one of the most momentous in the canon as it summarizes one of the most profound and ultimate truths life:  the inherennt uncertainty & vicissitudinousness of fortune. It is render’d in poetic terms unmatch’d by any:

[5.4 lines 123-136] A day or two

Let us look sadly, and give grace unto

The funeral of Arcite, in whose end

The visages of bridegrooms we’ll put on

And smile with Palamon; for whom an hour,

But one hour since, I was as dearly sorry

As glad of Arcite; and am now as glad

As for him sorry. O you heavenly charmers,

What things you make of us! For what we lack,

We laugh, for what we have, are sorry; still

Are children in some kind. Let us be thankful

For that which is, and with you, leave dispute

That are above our question. Let’s go off,

And bear us like the time.

I think it’s heartwarming to note that the last speech Shakespeare ever wrote leaves us with the Bard’s impression of what it means to be truly grateful for our lives. Shakespeare certainly realized that he had lived an incredible life and here two years before his death, he promulgates his gratitude: “Let us be thankful for that which is, and,…leave dispute that are above our question.”

What a beautiful paradigm for us to live by as we navigate through this crazy adventure we call life; continuing to discover and re-discover what it means to be human. We thank you so very much, William Shakespeare, Sweet Swan of Avon!

Macbeth: an Embellished History! Part 1

If someone were to ask you if you knew the story of Macbeth, you might think someone was insulting your intelligence, but the real story has been obscured by the riveting rendition by the Bard. Historically Macbeth’s wife actually had a reasonable claim to the throne as her grandfather had been King. Her grandfather, King Kenneth III, was killed by King Duncan’s grandfather in battle, and the Moray’s {Macbeth’s family line} had an inveterate rivalry with the Scottish Kings. Historically, King Duncan was not killed during an overnight sojourn with Macbeth but at the Battle of Pitgaveny. Shakespeare may have borrowed the idea of a lavish banquet coupled with an impending act of treachery from a legend regarding a golden apple and the Scottish King Kenneth II. It goes something like this: a highborn woman’s son had been sentenced to death by this King Kenneth the second; and because her son had justly deserved this punishment, the King didn’t suspect she would seek retaliation on him. But this was a malicious and vindictive woman who had in fact helped her son commit the murder which he was being sentenced for; moreover, the King didn’t suspect any retribution on the mother’s part was because the crime was actually committed against this woman’s own father. After the King carries out this sentence on her son, she then invites this King to visit her own dwelling for an extremely lavish banquet [perhaps flattering him for his Virtuous Justice]. Knowing the King’s taste for magnificence, after the end of this great feast, she leads him to an adjoining room glazed in copper, with flowers, marvelous imported furniture, rich tapestries interwoven with gold, and also a majestic bronze statue of the very King himself holding a glimmering gem-laden golden apple. They stood in front of the statue admiring all of its intricate detail until she told him that the golden apple was a gift for him. She walks away at this point pretending to admire a tapestry in the corner; and he, brimming with joy and gloating over his lavish gift, takes the glimmering apple into his hand…and BOOM! It sets off a hidden contraption she had built into the statue, imparting multiple lethal wounds all over his body. Her retribution for her son is satisfied. Shakespeare chooses to make the Macbeths’ motive for murder ambition rather than revenge, yet by incorporating the device of offering hospitality as an accomplice to one’s odious intentions, he emphasizes the theme of deception, a recurring theme in the tragedies. After Macbeth’s death in 1057, it was actually his wife’s son Lulach {his stepson} that inherited the crown, but because he was ambushed shortly thereafter by Malcolm, who was then coronated and reigned for over thirty years, Shakespeare chose to excise that detail. Although Shakespeare paints Macbeth’s reign as brief and full of strife, his time as King was primarily stable, and the lengthy seventeen year reign he enjoyed should not be abridged out of his life’s story. Reserved for Kings held in high regard, he was buried in the anointed ground of Iona.

A Conjecture


In 1593 Marlowe escaped to Naples to avoid charges of Treason from the High Court. Was Marlowe Shakespeare’s ghost-writer? Could it be that they worked as a team? Just like Rosalind and Celia in As You Like It, they were close to each other—being born the same year and working in the same profession. Note Celia’s lines to her father Duke Frederick; if she be a traitor, why so am I. We still have slept together, rose at an instant, learn’d, play’ed, eat together, and whereso’er we went, like Juno’s swans, still we went coupled and inseperable. Keep in mind that these roles would be played by males in their mid teens (a time when we can infer Shakespeare and Marlowe were especially close). Being reminded of days past with his famous friend Kit Marlowe, I can only imagine the nostalgia Shakespeare felt watching an afternoon performance of As You Like It at the brand new Globe. Fast forward twelve years; the final performance of Shakespeare’s tenure was arriving; Marlowe planned a return, and it was to be made a grand one. Did Marlowe play Prospero? In the epilogue, this Prospero announces that he is hanging up his hat for good; he pleads forgiveness for his misdeeds & deception, because his {life’s} project...was to please.  This is more of an epilogue to Shakespeare’s career than it is for The Tempest. It was certainly a risk for Shakespeare to consort with Marlowe given his less than spotless history & reputation; yet I am reminded of a poignant scripture from the King James Bible which was published the same year as The Tempest, 1611. The following is from the epistle of James, Jesus’ brother:

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Prospero, in this same epilogue, asks the audience to play a game; he tells them that they can show that they forgive him by virtue of their applause; as you from crimes would pardoned be, let your indulgence set me free! The audience applauses and little by little he undissembles himself. As the applause culminates into an insurrmountable roar, he is left with looking just like himself; a miracle, someting that the bystanders almost couldn’t believe. What they thought could only happen in a play is now happening in real life right before their very eyes. KIT MARLOWE IS ALIVE?! The audience goes wild as their modern day Pop Superstar is back and I mean undeparted boldly and with style. The transgressor has surely been reformed and all is well. As to Shakespeare’s last dramatic words, we have these ten; enjoy!

Then to the elements be free, and fare thou well!!

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or is it possible that Shakespeare went to Naples, and Marlowe disguised himself as Shakespeare and with his mastery at dissembling played as if he was Shakespeare and Marlowe acted “his part” until he revealed himself in the epilogue of The Tempest to ask forgiveness for his years of deceit;  he confesses he has become a Christian [just as Shylock was sentenced to do in The Merchant of Venice]. To say the least, Mercury may have been a busy entity.

Delusional Richard!

When King Richard III falls off from his horse fighting Richmond, Richmond being the man who defeated him at Bosworth Field and consequently established the Tudor dynasty, Richard shouts out in disbelief, “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” He is quite delusional for blaming his unfortunate predicament on an indifferent mare, yet this supports a theory of human psychology that people prove creative rationalizers in order to deflect personal responsibility; however this only works for so long. Eventually we must take an honest inventory of ourselves impartial to our intrinsic pride. Richard from the outset embarks on a self-destructive path, yet he still believed he could pull it off with something I like to refer to as: psychotic optimism. When this mindset takes hold of someone, regardless of whether or not their actions are self-destructive: they believe things will work out for the best, but as Billy Joel says, “When the fun falls through and the rent comes due…it surely will catch up to [you], somewhere along the line.”