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November 15, 2011


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@G Fekks
You did explore key multiple readings in a fluent and ambitions style. However, you do need to include historical context and clarify on gothic tropes...

You discuss multiple interpretations in a lot of depth and use a range of quotes to support those interpretations. I also liked the inclusion of how staging may affect the audiences view on violence. However, although you address various gothic themes such as ‘upsetting the natural order’ you fail to explain why this is a gothic element and what effect this has.

Saffron Dragon uses some key quotes in the play which demonstrate violence well. There is a clear understanding of different readings of the play, but I think you could consistently discuss readings to a greater extent. You should mention some specific gothic elements in your paragraph and also use some critical/ historical or staging perspectives. Evaluation could also be developed.

I like the way you have commented on how the play is framed and how this links to violence being initiated from the very start. You look at both aspects of the gothic themes, horror and terror.


Your consideration of violence framing the play shows an evaluative reading, but you do not lose the focus on the question. The use of a criticism reinforces an interpretation, and AO3 is displayed through the opposing reading. If you continue to unpack specific quotes in more detail, refer to the Gothic, and staging perspectives, you could aim to achieve the ‘perceptive consideration’ grade.

@Lady Macduff's Kid 2
Multiple, clear, key interpretations of the murder of Macduff's family. 'does not necessarily.... could reveal... could reflect'
Reference to gothic themes; touching on the contrast between horror and terror.

Saffron Dragon. Nice analysis but you did not address the question atall, as you did not mention the effect on the audience. Tighter focus please!

Saffron Dragon
Very perceptive analysis of the quotations, especially the linking of the flower and snake to women and significance of ‘milk’, however doesn’t stay focused on whether the violence is excessive. This makes it difficult for you to consider different interpretations and there isn’t a specific and clear judgement on the question. However the writing is very fluent and the vocabulary wide-ranging, communicating your ideas around the quotations effectively.

That was to JK.

@JK There is a good clear difference of readings, in some depth – could evaluate further. Comes to a conclusion. Reference to gothic themes, but no mention of the GOTHIC. Nice use of critic, to back up argument.

JK use of critical perspectives falls into preceptive consideration.However,the weren't many reading of horror and terror which are key elements in the reading of Macbeth as an excessively violent' play.The expansion of particular words and possible staging persepctives, maybe the use of 'blood', would allow him to fall into the persepective category,whereas now he's just in the consideration stage.

Also you didn’t really present more than one interpretation however the one you did present was fluent with a relevant critic. You should have expanded on your alternative reading more. You could have unpacked your quotes more- lack of analysis.

To G.Fekks

You consistently discuss key multiple readings in depth, you unpack the quotation and make references to Gothic themes. You use a wide range of vocabulary but need to consider the historical context in which the play was written. You also need to look at staging perspectives.

@Banquo did a great job of discussing key multiple readings in depth. Also there was a good use of both historical and staging perspectives as well as references to key gothic themes

G Fekks:

Evaluates keys readings and comes to conclusions -'Without a symbol of virtuous conduct, the violence can hold no real meaning or purpose,' which is then spported by evidence from the text.

Consistently discusses key multiple readings in depth,'yet furthermore can be viewed as'... In order to improve however, the GOTHIC must be mentioned, and the use of a combination of interpretations to highlight the genre. Furthermore, there is refernce to different Gothic elements, 'terror', 'horrific,'and'violence',
however quite brief.

No historical/critical/staging perspectives used.

Lady Macduff's Kid number 1: worked well in indentifying and expanding on different use of staging both on and off such as 'real body parts being used on stage' this shows perceptive consideration.Although with recongition of gothic elements and horror/terror falls into the category of key multiple readings. Maybe more AO3 would certify this peice as perceptive.

Violence is essential for Macbeth as the play as an example of the gothic genre needs to be, as Glennis Byron explains, ‘a culture’s struggle to define the civilised’. The only way to demonstrate this ‘struggle’ is to incorporate forms of violence, to show how members of society can no longer operate in a typically human way, but instead fall victim to their repressed emotions.
From the very first scene after the witches, the theme of violence is introduced with the ‘bloody man.’ This initially shocks the audience, with the gothic theme of blood – but revealing this horror so early in the play is less effective as the suspense is not built up. Instead both characters and audience become rapidly accustomed with brutal massacres, which are hard for a director to subdue. Also it can be argued that terror is in fact created with blood (and particularly with the psychological violence as a result of the stained hands) as it symbolises the underlying theme of violence without actually showing it on stage. This would mean that violence isn’t actually that obvious in the play and is only alluded to create considerable impact on the audience.


So ... Today -

I want - a targetted comment for as many paragraphs as you can manage ... and be explicit in identifying elements of:



E.G. "Duncan, I think that you have evaluated the different interpretations very successfully - suggesting which is the 'most potent' of the violent scenes, and offering reasons. Perhaps you could link this to a film interpretation to make sure that it is PERCEPTIVE.

When considering excessive violence it is often the physical that comes to mind first. However, in Macbeth the alluded and psychological violence is just as significant as the violence acted onstage. Although an audience may be shocked by the murder of King Duncan (particularly a contemporary audience as the murder of aKing was high treason), when Lady Macduff and her children are murdered onstage, the audience may already be numbed to the excessive violence- so it ceases to have an impact. This reaction does not necessarily mean the audience has a lesser experienceof the play, it could reveal that they truly understand particular characters. It
could directly reflect Mabeth being ‘stepp’d [in blood] so far that [he] should wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er’- where continuing to commit acts of violence seems easier than returning the way he came (redemption). The audience is no longer a shocked bystander, as they, like Macbeth, feel that further violence is inevitable, even unavoidable. Blood is used to reflect the different types of violence, and here it psychologically submerges Macbeth in his guilt. Blood similarly torments Lady Macbeth, and becomes an obsession, where it represents different violent emotions and gothic themes. ‘Who’d have thought the old man to have so much blood in him’ uncovers her horror, and ‘will these hands ne’er be clean’ portrays terror. Washing someone’s hands of something refers to finishing and forgetting it, and Lady Macbeth’s inability to do so insinuates that it will continue to haunt her. The paranoia and gradual deterioration of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s sanity is due to the effects of excessive violence, which is a terrifying thought bound to impact many audiences.

The interpretation of character Macbeth is constantly judged through out the play. After he murdered Duncan the audience can see the violence affecting him. 'O horror, horror, horror, tongue not heart cannot conceive nor flame thee.' (Act1Sc3) The emphasis in repetition creates a Gothic theme of physical horror in which is the guilt of Duncans murder. Shakespearean audiences see the violence to be excessive and mortifying due to the murders of Mcduffs children on-stage. Different members of the audience interpret the play differently through how the director establishes scenes on-stage or off. The horrific psychological terror in which the audience witness is when directors use props to throw into the audience such as body-parts to emphasis on the murders of Mcduffs children. The witches also emphasise on body parts when on-stage with a cauldron such as 'Finger of birth-strangled babe.' Audiences by this visual image are terrified by the killings of young children. The word 'birth-strangled' creates an overwhelming sense of emotions. The ingredients of what they put in the cauldron (Act4Sc1) create a prophecy and shows a representation of a ritual which is viewed by critics to be an interpretation of God creating the world. Showing a theme to religion and the supernatural.

There is a distinction in the interpretation of the character Lady Macbeth in which she is viewed to have the obsession with blood. 'Come, you spirits of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood.' This can be viewed that she wanted to kill Duncan herself (showing male superiority) showing she wants to become more masculine challenging nature against the unnatural. Shakespeareans view women as child carriers and insignificant beings, inferior to the men. Her feminine aspect is more demonic and similar to the characters of the witches, as she wants control. 'Who'd have thought the Old man to have so much blood in him.' This again shows her mentioning the word 'blood' in which can create horrific images of psychological violence, in which is argued that Lady Macbeth is obsessed with violence to a greater extent then blood. 'will these hand, ne'er be clean' This can be viewed as a repressed thought of Lady Macbeths encounter of the murders committed. It establishes the theme of madness due to the terror in which is created in the tension of the build up to Lady Macbeths death.

The increase in violence in Macbeth is parallel to the decrease in Macbeth's concern for the welfare of other characters in the play, or the moral implications of his actions. This can be seen in his 'I am in blood stepped so far that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er''. Macbeth at this point has committed so many heinous acts that any more can't make a difference, in this way showing his loss of feeling towards the worth of human life that to attempt to redeem for his sins – 'go o'er' – would be as 'tedious' as to continue. 'Tedious' also suggests boredom, this again signifying Macbeth's lack of concern as his emotional state is more bored than in turmoil. This contrasts drastically with earlier in the play, for instance in Act 2 Scene 2 with 'wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou coudst!' where Macbeth is desperate for his deed to be reversed and Duncan to be woken, as if he is sleeping – as he should be – instead of dead. This links to the idea of the natural order, if Macbeth didn't act outside the natural order and murder the king then he would, at that point, be sleeping, this perhaps reflected later on in the play with 'nature seems dead'. In this way the excessive violence is effective in contrasting with Macbeth's emotional state to show clearly to the audience his change to no longer caring about morals or the 'natural order'.

However, the violence in the play could be viewed as too excessive, in this way the audience being no longer shocked and so Macbeth's lack of reaction not having so great an impact. For instance with the horrible imagery Shakespeare uses with 'when the brains were out, the man would die'. As well as this, in the repetition of blood – a violent Gothic theme – in 'bloody business', 'blood stepped so far' and 'it will have blood, the say, blood will have blood', this personification of the blood increasing the terror of the audience with the idea of blood itself seeking revenge. This, however, could be considered too excessive, the idea of blood having emotional intent, and so actually have little impact on the audience. Despite this lack of impact on the audience, thowever, this doesn't necessarily mean the violence is excessive as this could have been Shakespeare's intent. If the audience became desensitised to the violence – possible as in Shakespeare's time they would have been used to real body parts being used on stage – then they begin to react to the violence in a similar way to Macbeth; 'all is but toys' and life 'is told by an idiot, filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing' – as the violence in the play begin to have no significance for the audience. In this way Shakespeare could terrify the audience more as they become scared by their own lack of reaction, therefore seeing similarities between themselves and Macbeth.

Violence is apparent throughout Macbeth and takes various forms such as regicide and infanticide. The play is framed by a pair of battles, the first of which Macbeth triumphantly defeats the invaders before being slain by Macduff in the second. As the play develops, numerous acts of violence are central to the play such as the murders of Duncan, Lady Macduff and others. Some would argue that because the audience is exposed to so much violence in the play it leads them to become desensitised and ceases to have an effect. Even Macbeth himself becomes less affected by committing murders as the play progresses. The Polish critic Jan Kott believes that Macbeth has only one theme: murder. After his first murder Macbeth gradually becomes numb to the violence that he is committing until he believes that “There’s nothing serious in mortality; all is but toys” (2.3).
Although this may strengthen the idea that violence is excessive in the play, the fact that Macbeth loses his morality and becomes so engulfed in obtaining or retaining power that he fails to care about life anymore is something that may have a profound effect on both contemporary and modern audiences. It could therefore be argued that Shakespeare’s use of violence in Macbeth does have an effect on the audience because they see how violence changes people.

Crucially,Shakespeare uses the disturbed persona of Macbeth in order to exacerbate and heighten much of the physical violence throughout the play. This can in turn be seen as illustrating its excessiveness. The Sergeant's remark (Act 1, scene 2) "As two swimmers, that do cling together and choke their art." stands as an example of the potent violence in the horrific 'choke', yet furthermore can be viewed as a foreshadowing, demonstrating perhaps a sense of moral ambiguity as to which side is good or bad. The absence of morality could be a way of deeming the violence in the production excessive. Without a symbol of virtuous conduct, the violence can hold no real meaning or purpose. This is perhaps best illustrated in Macbeth's in blood stepp'd in so far..." (Act 3, scene 4). The sociopathic temperament Macbeth inhabits acts as a typical gothic trope supplemented by his sense of entrapment and his mounting terror.

Initially, the violence is Macbeth is the subtle, psychological violence exercised by the witches in manipulating Macbeth in prophesising that Macbeth shall “be king hereafter”. Although some might argue that the prophecy does not contribute to Macbeth’s bad character, but it is the point from where Macbeth begins on his downward spiral. Lady Macbeth also deploys psychological violence to spur her husband to assassinate Duncan. This can be seen in the quotation: …“look like the innocent flower,/ but be the serpent underneath it”. The violence here can be seen as poisonous violence, like Lady Macbeth drugging the drinks of Duncan’s guards. The joint imagery of a flower and a serpent can be seen as feminine symbols, flower being an image suggesting delicateness and insignificance while a serpent is cunning and venomous whilst also having Biblical connotations. Lady Macbeth also uses violence in her language towards her own body “Come to my woman’s breasts,/and take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers”. In this quote, Lady Macbeth repeats the image of milk as she uses it earlier in “yet do I fear thy nature;/ it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness…” Milk is a feminine and maternal image arguably significant here as Macbeth has no heir and Lady Macbeth references to plucking an infant from her breasts and dashing its brains out. This is a violent image as it goes against a fixed view of women, but it can be seen as Lady Macbeth going against the convention and perhaps trying to reshape the image of women as mothers.
The first physical violence occurs in Duncan’s assassination.

Saffron Dragon (sorry this is incomplete)

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ...
I expect you paragraphs - tomorrow.

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