Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thank you for a wonderful semester. I am very proud of you, and impressed with your good work.

A-D  Did you find anything remarkable about Lady Macbeth's speech, "Glamis thou art" (1.5.13-28)?

When Lady Macbeth is introduced in the play she is not shown as the doting wife that worries about her husband while he is off fighting in a bloody battle. Instead, she starts off scene five of act one by reading a letter from her husband about his conversation with the three witches. I find Lady Macbeth’s lack of love to be remarkable, as seen in her first lines of the play.
            I really cannot see any love of her husband from Lady Macbeth. It is true that she wants his advancement, for after reading his letter she begins to scheme how she will convince him to take the throne; however, I would think that a loving wife would want her husband to be a good person and not complain that he is “too full o’th’ milk of human kindness/To catch the nearest way” (1.5.15-16). While I do believe that to love a person Lady Macbeth should want what is best for him, I do not think that murder falls under the “what is best” category. Instead of being thankful that she has a kind husband who is nice to others and is kind to her, Lady Macbeth whines that he is not evil, which “impedes thee from the golden round” (1.5.26).
            Secondly, Lady Macbeth doesn’t seem to be honored that she has also risen in status along with her husband. Lady Macbeth has no plans on congratulating Macbeth on being promoted to Thane of Cawdor or showing any gratitude for his loyal acts that he lovingly grants to her or to King Duncan. She does admit that it doesn’t escape her notice that he has accomplished this new honor from the king, but she immediately jumps on the witches’ prediction of Macbeth inheriting the throne. She is so totally focused on what is to come that she does not realize that she is now not only the lady of Glamis, but also of Cawdor. One way of showing someone love is to give them gratitude. Lady Macbeth certainly doesn’t know this fact.
            I believe that Lady Macbeth is a character who does not know how to love. Perhaps in her own twisted way she believes that she loves her husband because she greedily wants him to rise to the highest possible position, yet I do not believe that this shows a dotting, loving wife. Instead of whining about how kind Macbeth is to everyone, she should be grateful that he is not an abusive overlord towards herself. Instead of rebuking him with the “valor of…[her] tongue” (1.5.25), perhaps she should be thanking him for being a good person and soldier, thus making her lady of Cawdor in addition to Glamis and getting home safe and sound from the battle. Lady Macbeth is not a wife to be admired.

There were a number of things that stood out to me from this speech. This is essentially our introduction to Lady Macbeth. This is my first time every reading Macbeth, and I took a note in class on Tuesday when you mentioned that Lady Macbeth is sometimes thought of as the fourth witch of the play. Though I am not currently past Act 4, I am starting to understand why some may think of her that way.
It is unclear whether or not she believes in what the witches are saying, and to be honest, I really don’t think that it matters. They told her that she is to become royalty, and that is what she wants to hear, so she believes it. I’d venture to guess she would turn to witchcraft solely for the purpose of having her husband become king.
“Yet I do fear thy nature;/it is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness” (1.5. 14-15): Lady Macbeth is saying that she knows that he is a good man with a moral compass, but that he may be too nice to carry out what she believes he has to do.  If given the option, I am certain that Lady Macbeth would carry out the execution herself. She is the aggressor in their relationship. I can’t tell yet if she thinks he is a coward or just indecisive and maybe a little bit lazy. And as she continues in this speech, it’s clear that she does not have 100% faith that he will be able to complete this mission. She is determined to talk him into carrying through, not because it’s necessarily what is right, but because it’s the only way that they can share the throne together. Though I am not certain, it appears as though this is how their relationship goes. Almost as though she has the thicker skin of the two, and the ability to not sit on a decision, but to act on it. And quickly, before either has a chance to change their mind.

Lady Macbeth is first introduced in Act 1 Scene V. At her first introduction it is hard to think of her as ladylike. She reads a letter from Macbeth, it isn’t what one would imagine a letter to a wife from a man at war would be, it is strictly business. Lady Macbeth seems to find her husband somewhat weak, she doesn’t believe he knows how to get what he wants.
            It was said in class that some people think of Lady Macbeth as a fourth witch and it has some stable evidence. While Macbeth is still trying to piece together why the witches told him he would be the Thane of Cawdor and eventually the King, Lady Macbeth seems to find the answer extremely simple. She doesn’t think her husband is immoral enough to kill his way to the crown.
            Lady Macbeth seems to know she can control Macbeth and in a way that seems supernatural. When she is talking to herself she tells Macbeth that she is going to, “pour my spirits in thine ear” (1.5.23), This is taken to mean a transfer of energy. While this could have been natural in the time, for modern audiences this might seem like witchcraft or supernatural.
            What truly stands out among the many things Lady Macbeth says is, “Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crowned withal” (1.5.26). Just like the beginning of the play where many paradoxes were used, this line seems also to contain a paradox. Fate, in such a case as predestination, is an unstoppable phenomenon. This leads to the question, If Macbeth’s taking of the crown is fate, why does it need metaphysical aid? Lady Macbeth seems to think her husband incapable of completing immoral deeds, if his fate is to take the crown then doesn’t his fate already leave the ability to kill for one’s personal growth among Macbeth’s characteristics? Lady Macbeth seems to think that supernatural aid will be required for her husband to kill his predecessors although according to fate Macbeth already has it in him, in thinking this one might find that her desire to involve the supernatural makes her suspiciously like a witch. 

E-G  Lady Macbeth's soliloquy (1.5.36-52): what do you make of it?

Lady Macbeths soliloquy towards the beginning of Act one Scene five represents her want for power of the throne.  In this soliloquy, Lady Macbeth is talking with the sky, discussing the fatal entrance of Duncan, meaning the plan and execution of his death.  In my opinion, Lady Macbeth makes this speech in order to let others know she is not afraid to take matters into her own hands and kill Duncan if her husband, Macbeth, decides to withdraw from the execution of King Duncan himself. 
            Lady Macbeth states many times that she is willing to put her woman attributes aside in order to make sure King Duncan is killed so her and her husband can take the throne. 
            “That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here (1.5.39).
Lady Macbeth states to unsex her, meaning take away her feminine traits that are suppose to be loving, caring, and nurturing and instead replace them with heartless masculine traits so she is able to complete this task.  She is asking those above to change her internal being as a woman. 
            “Come to my womans breasts
            And take my milk for gall, you murdring ministers (1.5.45-46).
Here we see Lady Macbeth striping herself of all feminine qualities and preparing herself for the murder of King Duncan if her husband cannot follow through with the act.  As a reader, this makes me believe Macbeth would not have wanted to kill King Duncan on his own, and instead, this is his wife’s idea and decision.  This shows power and money is the root of all evil and some will do anything to receive it.

The way that Shakespeare depicts Macbeth at the beginning of this scene has a few layers to it. Firstly, starting the soliloquy with “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well/ it were done quickly.” (1.7, 1-2), shows that Macbeth is in a very pragmatic state of mind when thinking about the actions that he should take. He shows that if it were only as simple as killing the king and then moving on with his life then he would easily be able to do it, and therefore the sooner the better because there is no reason to wait. This also shows that he takes the time to think out his actions instead of just doing them immediately by the fact that he takes the time to say this and contemplate what needs to be done instead of just rushing in to do it. Related to the idea of him taking time to think through his actions is the fact that he is worried about the consequences, shown by “But in these cases/ we still have judgement here, that we but teach/ Bloody instructions which, being taught, return/ to plague  th’inventor.” (1.7, 7-10). This is more significant than the idea that Macbeth is worried about ramifications though, the fact that he seems to only be worried about the fact that him killing the king might make other people think it is a good idea to kill him also shows that he does not particularly have a strong value for human life. If he did, he would be more worried about the fact that he is harming another person rather than his sole concern being that trouble might come his way. Macbeth is pragmatic in his decisions to kill, as well as how to go about them, and the only reason that he thinks them through in this way is that he is worried about himself. This shows that his sense of morality is selfish at best and more realistically bordering on evil where it would not take much for him to do anything he would think is necessary in order to get what he wants. These factors also make Macbeth seem intelligent, and intellect on top of an evil morality make Macbeth seem like a formidable character.

In her soliloquy (1.5.36-52), Lady Macbeth begins by exclaiming how fortunate for her and unfortunate for the king it is that he is coming to Macbeth’s home. For her, it seems to be the perfect opportunity to bring about the prophecy of the three witches, that Macbeth will be king. The witches prophesy in 1.3.49-51:
                        All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
                        All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
                        All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!
            This prophecy occurs just after Macbeth has killed the previous Thane of Cawdor, although he has not yet been named his successor. Therefore, by the time he is named Thane of Cawdor by the king’s men, he realizes that he quite possibly could be the next king as well. He writes to Lady Macbeth relating these events, and it is this letter that she has just finished reading when a messenger comes to her, telling her of the king’s coming. Her soliloquy follows this news immediately.
            While she is overjoyed that the opportunity to make Macbeth king has come so soon, Lady Macbeth is also somewhat fearful of what it might entail. In her soliloquy she asks for strength to commit the deed and not feel guilt.
                                                            Make thick my blood,
                        Stop up th’access and passage to remorse,
                        That no compunctious visitings of nature
                        Shake my fell purpose nor keep peace between
                        Th’effect and it.
            She also requests that no thing keeps the deed from being accomplished. The fact that these are requests that she has and not just thoughts makes me wonder whether Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy is a soliloquy at all. She seems to be talking to somebody, asking for help and guidance in committing the murder of King Duncan. It’s possible that, while there is no one else present on stage, Lady Macbeth is actually talking to the three witches that Macbeth told her about in his letter. Whether she’s ever come into contact with the witches, we don’t know. What we do know, though, is that Lady Macbeth is willing to do anything and everything to make her husband king. This soliloquy, or monologue or prayer, is proof enough of that.

H-O Macbeth's soliloquy to begin 1.7: how does  Shakespeare depict his consciousness and sense of morality?

Macbeth shows that he does understand morality and how he is aware that his plan to murder Duncan is wrong in his soliloquy at the beginning of act 1 scene 7. He begins his speech by saying “If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly” (1.7.1-2), showing the audience that he knows he must act quickly in order to be successful with his mission. From here he goes from sounding sure of himself with this decision to questioning it. He goes on to say in lines 7 through 10:
                                                But in these cases
                                    We still have judgment here, that we but teach
                                    Bloody instructions which, being taught, return
                                    To plague th'inventor.
This is Shakespeare's way of sharing how conscious Macbeth is on the consequences of his actions. Shakespeare uses graphic words such as “bloody” and “plague” to emphasize Macbeth's grasp of morality, or in this case, the lack of morality in his plans.
            Macbeth is also very aware of how much trust Duncan has placed at his feet. He acknowledges that as his subject he should be “against the deed” (1.7.14) and as his host he “should against his murderer shut the door” (1.7.15). Not only is he aware of the wrongness of murdering Duncan and  that doing so will come back on him eventually, but he admits Duncan has done nothing to deserve this death. Macbeth states in lines 16-20:
                                                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-toungued, against
                                    The deep damnation of his taking-off;
By speaking about Duncan's meek nature in his office and of his virtues, Macbeth shows his admiration of the man he has decided to kill. It speaks to his awareness that his future actions are wrong. To further show his own corruption he compares his motivations by admitting that his only reason to killing Duncan is his “vaulting ambition” (1.7.27). 

Macbeth is a man of a relatively simple morality, he sees the world around him in moral convictions that spoke of his loyalty and his admiration for Duncan’s nobility. These concerns are clearly expressed in the opening lines of Macbeth’s soliloquy, “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly. If th’assassination could trammel up the consequence”. (1.7.1-4) these lines expose Macbeth's apprehension at his task, in saying if it were done, ‘twere well it were done quickly he speaks of the fact that he might not have the resolve to act if he does not quickly as in the heat of battle, where killing comes easily to Macbeth. This shows a clear distinction in Macbeth's morality between killing in battle and murder.
            We also see his views of loyalty and honor explained in the passage where Macbeth explains why he should not kill Duncan. The passage details what Macbeth sees as virtues and how he believes an honorable man should act, from these observations we can infer his morality in these areas. The passage begins with Macbeth's declaration of how Duncan should feel safe with him, “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 against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself.”. (1.7.12-16) This passage shows the great importance of loyalty and honor to Macbeth, even with his great ambition his loyalty and honor restrained him from taking action with a clear conscience. The concept of the obligations of the host go back a long way, and these responsibilities are deeply ingrained into Macbeth's morality, the idea of slaughtering an entire battlefield of enemies is preferable to harming a single guest in his eyes. We also see the bonds of family and loyalty to the crown, play heavily into his moral compass, which should not be surprising for a man whose world revolves around home and country. The choice to turn from his kings most stalwart champion to the Kings assassin, is one that drives Macbeth to become a monster.

Macbeth’s soliloquy in 1.7 is the point when his ambitions to be king start take over and his sense of morality is pushed aside.  We can see this happen quickly, when Macbeth begins with wishing the whole assassination of the king would just be over and done with minimal obstacles and effort. “If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly” (1.7.1-2). His coldness towards the whole thing, treating the act as if it were an annoying chore, is when we start to really see the real Macbeth. Speaking of quickly, it does seem like Macbeth’s ambitions for the crown crop up out of nowhere. This could be attributed to the witches influence, but this might put into question how much influence they hold over Macbeth and his actions. It’s also worth pondering if Lady Macbeth’s need for power is connected to the witches as well. The quickness of it all could also just simply mean that it was always there. Macbeth had always wanted more, but had been unable to see the path to get to where he wanted to be. The witches, and Lady Macbeth, shined a light on it.
            The other part that largely outlines his lack of morality and his consciousness is his concern for the consequences. Macbeth is more worried about being punished, the “evenhanded justice” (1.7.10), for killing the king than committing a murder motivated by his desire for power. His indifference towards the whole ordeal becomes almost comical when he decides he should not murder Duncan tonight because it would be rude to kill the king while Macbeth is his host. True, it is not good to murder someone in your own house if you are planning to get away with it. Macbeth also knows that he should be protecting the king from harm, showing that he knows his role and consciously is acting against it. 

P-S  Why does the concept of manliness arise in the first conversation we see between Lady Macbeth and her spouse (1.7)?

The concept of manliness comes up in 1.7 between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth because they have different ideas of what being a man is. Macbeth is having second thoughts about killing Duncan because he doesn’t know what kind of consequences there will be, and Macbeth thinks Duncan is a good and uncorrupted king. Macbeth does not see backing down as an act of cowardliness but an act of manliness. He says, “I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more is none” (1.7.46-47), meaning that he has done what he needed to do to become a man and if he does more, meaning kill Duncan, he will no longer be a man. This is Macbeth’s concept of what is manly; the important part is it is not manly if one becomes too selfish.
            Lady Macbeth sees manliness different and questions her own husband’s manliness because he doesn’t want to murder Duncan. She points out to Macbeth that he was once more of a man when he thought of the idea and will be an even greater man once the murder is done. “When you durst do it, then you were a man; And to be more than what you were, you would Be so much more the man” (1.7.49-51).  Her idea of what makes a man is a driving ambition to get to the top and doing whatever needs to be done to get there. Lady Macbeth is shaming her husband because he doesn’t want commit the murder anymore and she finds that cowardly. She uses the comparison of killing her own baby if she had sworn to do it; meaning she would kill her own flesh and blood if she had said she would and Macbeth won’t even kill the king even though he said he would. Her point in all this is to show that she is manlier than her husband and to shame him into doing the murder. 

T-Z  Macbeth's soliloquy, "Is this a dagger that I see before me?" (2.1.33): does it matter if he really sees a dagger or not? What in the speech might give you some clues?

The concept of manliness comes up in 1.7 when Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are arguing over the plan to kill Duncan.  Macbeth made a decision to kill Duncan and then started having second thoughts about this murder.  Duncan says, “We will proceed no further in this business/He hath honored me of late” (1.7.31-32), essentially saying that he cannot go along with his plan any longer because the king just honored him and he’s now earned the good opinions from so many people and that he wants to enjoy this feeling while it lasts.  Lady Macbeth reacts by calling him first a coward for ‘wanting’ to do something, in this case, murdering Duncan, and doing the opposite of what he wants.  Macbeth says that his reluctance to kill Duncan makes him a man, and that killing him would make him less of a man.  So essentially Macbeth thinks that the murder of Duncan would make him a coward, and not murdering Duncan makes him a man. 
            Lady Macbeth feels the exact opposite of Macbeth.  Lady Macbeth tells him that when he said he was going to murder Duncan, that’s when he was the real man, and if he actually goes through with what he says he is going to do, then that makes him even more of a man.  I think Lady Macbeth has a problem with him acting ‘scared’ to kill Duncan, but I think it makes her even more mad that he promised to do something, and then went back on his promise.  She made the comment that she has known the love for a baby that she breast fed, but she would essentially kill the baby even as it was smiling at her if he had promised to do so.

In Macbeth’s soliloquy, Macbeth first says “Is this a dagger that I see before me?” (2.1.33) he does not see an actual dagger, he is imagining it, “I have thee not, and yet I see thee still” (2.1.35).  From this it shows us that Macbeth is confused and is having second thoughts on whether or not he should go through with it. A clue on what might show the reader that there is no dagger is when Macbeth says “I see thee yet, in form as palpable/As this which now I draw” (2.1.40-41) he can now feel the dagger in his hands and that it feels so real. At this point he is pulling out a real dagger. Another line that is important would be “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood” (2.1.46) He is seeing blood on the handle and the blade, and then Macbeth starts to feel guilty for what he will do to Duncan. Then when Macbeth says “It is the bloody business which informs thus to mine eyes” (2.1.48-49) Macbeth is now thinking of the murder that is about to commit. From this we now see why Macbeth is seeing a dagger, and now the audience is seeing everything come together, from him talking about a dagger, seeing blood on the handle, and now hearing about the murder gives the audience a better understanding. They are now seeing the complications that Macbeth is having with going through with the murder. Towards the end of his soliloquy, Macbeth then says “Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives” (2.1.61) this line is important because Macbeth is saying that the longer he stays here and talks the faster his courage goes away. If he wants to kill Duncan then, he must do it soon or else he might back out. Then at the end of his soliloquy he says “I go and it is done. The bell invites me./Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell” (2.1.62-63) when he heard the bells Macbeth knows what he must do and that is to murder Duncan. He then says that he is going to do it no matter what happens. 

In Macbeth’s soliloquy, he begins by saying “Is this a dagger which I see before me,/The handle toward my hand?” (2.1.33-34). Macbeth sees an imaginary dagger. In the play, this scene is one that shows Macbeth’s hesitation and confusion. There isn’t really a dagger there, but this first line shows the audience a lot. Of all the things Macbeth could see in the hallway, why would it be a dagger? This has the significance of the fact that Macbeth is on his way to murder Duncan. In fact, around line 42 of this scene, he pulls out his own dagger. Why wouldn’t Shakespeare have had Macbeth see some other object, or even a person, that would make him doubt himself? The dagger soon appeared covered with blood: “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood” (2.1.47). This helps answer the question of why he saw a dagger. With this object being portrayed, the audience obviously thinks of death. However, as soon as that blood appears, an eerie feeling of the guilt attacks Macbeth. Seeing the object that kills someone is one thing, but seeing that object after the deed is done is another.
            The next line of this question (“The handle toward my hand?”) is equally as important. The handle of the dagger Macbeth is seeing is pointing right at him—almost tempting him to grab ahold of it. If it were pointing any other direction, the dagger would have almost been hard for Macbeth to approach. Since the handle was towards him, the audience can imply that the dagger he saw was inviting him to take it and use it. When Macbeth sees it in this position, his next words are “Come, let me clutch thee” (2.1.34). Macbeth is longing to grab the dagger, and with this line, he is ordering the dagger to let him do so.
            Between the blood Macbeth sees and the handle he longs to hold, it is important in this scene that he actually can visualize the dagger—the audience should not see it, but it is important that he can. If he did not see the dagger in the play, the audience would not get a good view of who Macbeth truly is becoming and the internal struggles going on.

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