I have a love-hate relationship with this play. On the one hand, I love how the play studies conscience…how delusions of grandeur can become a means of self-destruction through a domino effect. Analyzing the play from this standpoint, it’s quite amazing how much Shakespeare explores these issues in depth.
And I also must say that I do enjoy the witches. Macbeth and Banquo’s initial descriptions of them are priceless: “What are these, so wither’d, and so wild in their attire, that look not like th’ inhabitants o’ the earth… choppy fingers upon skinny lips.” These poor witches even have beards. Yet through their prophesies they do get some sort of justice or payback from the nasty treatment they receive.
On the other hand, I hate all of the bloodshed that occurs throughout the play. Macbeth
is a brutal read, emotionally bleak—a true tragedy. Unlike in Romeo and Juliet, the optimistic look towards the future—in that play, the burying of their parents’ strife—is not as readily apparent here in Macbeth
. Here, you need an historical background, since the characters are distantly modeled after real figures. The witches’ prophecy that Banquo’s children shall one day become kings did indeed come to fruition during Shakespeare’s time: James I of Scotland, was said to be descended from Banquo.
All in all, all of these factors make for an excellent play, but I somehow just can’t exactly call it one of my favorites.