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Pardon my absence!

I have been a very poor blogger—taking more than a year off. My excuse is that I have been working very diligently on my Ph.D. Just before Christmas break, I passed my Research Component with flying colors. I’m scheduled to present my Dissertation Proposal this semester. Nonetheless, pardon my absence.

 

What does my research have to do with Shakespeare, you ask? Well, my degree will not be in English. Rather, it will be in English Education. There are many reasons I opted for this degree rather than a traditional English degree, but the most important one is that I wanted to learn how best to teach. To do that, I needed to understand the various theories and research in education. And yet, even here, my degree will still be focused on Shakespeare. My research is focused primarily on methods for Teaching Shakespeare; more specifically, how do we teach Shakespeare in schools, how have we taught him, and which methods are the most effective and which are the most efficient for an instructor’s goals? There is a long history of Shakespeare in American schools, and, because he is such a constant is most curriculums, focusing education research on him is not that far fetched. On top of having a very supportive advisor who is very excited about my research, I have also been lucky enough to have been taken under the wing of one of the Shakespeare professors in the English department. She’s granted me full access to her and her classes, and I’ve been studying her for a year now. Her students have also been very generous—many have granted me multiple interviews about what they feel works or doesn’t work, their experiences with and feelings on Shakespeare, among many other subjects. It has been wonderful. Studying her class has tripled my passion for teachings and especially for teaching Shakespeare. Sitting quietly and observing has been very difficult because, so often, I want to raise my hand with the exuberance of Hermione Granger and answer or asked questions.
All this is to say, I will work on a new Shakespeare blog soon—hopefully long before the Bard’s birthday. In the meantime, please take a look at this wonderful Tumblr—I’ve gotten to know the artist through emails over the last few months. She’s incredibly smart and very talented.

http://dipthatpen.tumblr.com/

 

Thus, I leave you—for now—with one of my favorite insults from Macbeth. ““Go, prick thy face, and over-red thy fear, Thou lily-liver’d boy.” Macbeth 5.3.14-15

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Happy Birthday, Willy!

Last year, I participated in the “Happy Birthday Shakespeare” Blog Project (www.happybirthdayshakespeare.com) and gave a brief rundown of the view and history of birthdays in Shakespeare’s day. While that was incredibly interesting, for a Shakespeare and history nerd like me anyway, this year the project would like us to focus more on what Shakespeare has meant to us.

When I was 11, a babysitter brought over a copy of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo & Juliet. Technically, I knew I was a little young to be watching something like that, but I watched it anyway—steadfastly leaving during especially violent or sexual scenes like a good girl. However, I immediately became obsessed with both the story and Shakespeare. This event was followed closely by a Jr. High play where my minute character spoke some lines from Macbeth’s “Tomorrow” speech backwards. Because of my interest, I immediate set about learning the actual speech both backwards and forwards. Then I read the play. Then I read some sonnets. By this point, my mother had noticed my interest and, in her motherly wisdom, took me to see Twelfth Night at Nashville Shakespeare’s Shakespeare in the Park. We’ve been every year since—I even drove 12 hours just to be home for Labor Day weekend this past summer as to not miss the show with her. Their production of The Tempest is still a vivid memory—I loved it so much that I memorize the epilogue for fun. To this day, it is still my favorite play.

That interest/obsession has never faded. In fact, it’s grown. My freshman year of high school, I was the only one who understood Romeo & Juliet well enough to argue with the teacher in a way that she appreciated. My senior year, I was on the edge of my seat for each day’s discussion of both Hamlet and Macbeth despite the fact that I had seen and read the plays several times. One of my favorite professors in undergrad actually barred me from writing anymore Shakespeare-themed papers because I had written so many for her.

For me, Shakespeare’s works embody everything that I love about Literature. Within his plays, he knits imagination, folk mythology, history, drama, comedy, wit, wisdom, and much more. I can spend hours breaking down scenes by line—always finding something new or interesting. His rhymes and meter fall naturally off the tongue becoming a musical background to the words and images he invokes. My favorite lines from his plays still give me goosebumps every time I read them. When I’m troubled, I can always find something in Shakespeare that speaks to what I cannot express properly myself. Personal or public tragedy? Shakespeare. A need for a good laugh? Shakespeare.

Shakespeare was one of my first “grown-up” literary loves, and he will always remain dear to my heart. He led me to my current educational path in Literature and Education. My dream is to teach students to love and appreciate him like I do. He will always be my man, Willy Shakes. Happy Birthday, Willy.

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,

And what strength I have’s mine own,

Which is most faint. Now, ’tis true,

I must be here confined by you,

Or sent to Naples. Let me not,

Since I have my dukedom got

And pardoned the deceiver, dwell

In this bare island by your spell,

But release me from my bands

With the help of your good hands.

Gentle breath of yours my sails

Must fill, or else my project fails,

Which was to please. Now I want

Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,

And my ending is despair,

Unless I be relieved by prayer,

Which pierces so that it assaults

Mercy itself and frees all faults.

As you from crimes would pardoned be,

Let your indulgence set me free. (The Tempest, 5. Epilogue).

 

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Multimodal Shakespeare

I know, it’s been a long time since my last update. Such is the nature of grad school I’m afraid. I will try for a real update around the Bard’s birthday this month. In the meantime, here’s a small update!

One of the major areas of interest in the program I’m in is multimodal teaching strategies. A class assignment required that I turn a poem into a video. I chose Shakespeare’s Sonnets 130 and 104. Enjoy!

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Give Sorrow Words

This is not really an update. There’s a new post in the works soon. No, this is for those affected by the horrible tragedy at the elementary school in CT today.

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” Macbeth Act IV, Scene III, 209-210.

May the Lord bless and keep all of you

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What is Evil?

I know. If this were a graded project, I’d be failing. But every time I start to write, I come up with a different idea. So I stopped for a bit to let my thoughts settle. This is one subject that has kept coming up over and over, so hopefully it sticks.

How do we define evil? In truth, evil, like good, is one of those words often defined by an opposite, such as light/dark or tall/short. Such words and concepts are dependent each other and on the context in which they are used. The common definition of evil is dependent on our culture and personal mores. My or your evil might differ slightly from someone else’s evil, or, when compared, it may be far fetched.

I bring this before you because in a few days we will recognize the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. Certainly, our culture and the majority of cultures around the world define the tragedy of 9/11 as an act of pure evil. Thousands of innocent people died, people of various religions and cultures and races, all for someone else’s idiom. However, the men who planned and performed the attack believed THEY were right. They believed they were striking a blow at a country that has done more to degrade the moral center of the world than any other. In their minds, they were doing God’s work by killing those who do not embrace the “correct way.” How is their belief any different from those of our ancestors who spent generations fighting in the Crusades, killing innocent people as well as armed combatants, all in the name of religious conviction? So, I ask again: How do we define evil?

What of wars in general? America refused to enter WW I until it was apparent to a majority of the American populace that the European conflagration really was a matter of “national security,“ and WW II not until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. We were willing to allow others to fight what we now see as an ultimate evil, sacrificing their lives and homes in the process. We became involved only when our own military installations, both in Hawaii and in the Philippines, were bombed, and the national motive was in no small part revenge. Even here, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an act designed to cripple the U.S. forces in the Pacific, was done in the name of what the Japanese thought was “right.” They believed it was their manifest destiny to conquer the Pacific world. Their ideas of superiority were no different from those of American settlers who slaughtered thousands of Native Americans in the name of a manifest destiny. This country was not ours when we arrived. We conquered, we displaced, we murdered. Is this not evil? How were our ancestors any different?

We also dropped the worst of modern weapons on Japan in order to end the war, arguing that it would be better for hundreds of thousands of civilians to die than millions counted among our soldiers, Japanese soldiers, and Japanese civilians. That debate continues as one of the great moral conundrums of our age. But is the loss of millions truly more evil than the loss of hundreds of thousands? Is one soldier’s life worth any more than a civilian? Are two lives worth more than a single one? So again, what is evil?

Like all greats in the humanist disciplines, Shakespeare never offers an answer to such large and philosophical queries. Instead, he merely expands the questions. In Macbeth, he gives us not an evil incarnate to oppose a hero, but rather a descent into evil that should be pitied. He argues and justifies his descent into evil, just as we have often done with our own descent.

Macbeth begins as the archetypal hero. He has just conquered a traitor, that is, treason against a king, a sin worse than any other in Shakespeare’s time. While returning from the battlefield, unaware of his newly earned title, he encounters three witches who make predictions regarding his current and future titles. Macbeth scoffs at these sisters until he receives news that he is now “Thane of Cawdor” (1.3.055), just as the sisters predicted. Our Western minds, molded by centuries of teachings that witches are a form of evil, are quick to judge the grotesque women as the focus of evil in the play. However, the witches never perform a single act of evil. To the contrary, they merely make predictions, and Macbeth responds with murder and a plot against those who stand in his way. Macbeth, who began in the image of a hero, is revealed in possession of an evil mind seizes on murder as a solution, despite his initial declaration, “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, / Without my stir” (1.3.143-144).

Other critics argue that Lady Macbeth is the epitome of true evil within the play. After all, it is she who first places the thought of murdering the king in her doting husband’s head. Yet, her burgeoning guilt eventually drives her to insanity and suicide. We find Lady Macbeth so compelling because we so easily resonate with her guilt. The purest evil is little troubled with guilt. Nevertheless, the image of Lady Macbeth with which we are left is that of a tortured soul, rubbing her hands, madly demanding,

Out, damned spot! out, I say!—One: two: why,
then, ’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky!—Fie, my
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power
to account?—Yet who would have thought the old
man to have had so much blood in him?

The thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now?—
What, will these hands ne’er be clean?—No more o’
that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with
this starting.

Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this
little hand. O, O, O! (5.1.35-40, 42-45, 50-52).

Lady Macbeth’s hallucination-filled rambling comment not only on the deeds of the Macbeths, but also on her extreme guilt in their aftermath. Is she evil incarnate? Or is she merely a weak soul overcome by evil and left to be pitied?

Cultural differences across the globe make narrow definitions of evil impossible. I’m reminded of the climax of Boondock Saints, where Murphy declares, “Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal, these are principles which every man of every faith can embrace.” However, even these crimes are not embraced by every faith as evil. In fact, within some cultures, murder and rape are used to punish what some perceive as worse sins. So can we, as a human race, truly embrace any singular definition of evil? And if we can, can we also acknowledge our own evil as well as the evil of others?

Our Supreme Court might argue that, like porn, we cannot define evil, but we know it when we see it. By that reasoning, Macbeth is truly evil, and Shakespeare forces us to witness a good man’s descent into evil. And, as evil as Macbeth and Lady M become, it can also be argued that Banquo is equally evil. After all, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” However, for all three, they receive what we might call their just desserts. Is such a conclusion our answer to evil? Or should we conquer it with pity and compassion instead? Is that possible?

Let us apply the view of a descent to evil towards the hijackers of 9/11. We label these men as evil. Yet, they were seduced by words and rhetoric of zealots in their own religion. They laid their own lives and the lives of thousands of innocents on the altar of the rhetoric of their leaders. Does their memory deserve condemnation or pity?

Perhaps the answer is both. History is filled with leaders whose gift of blarney inspires others to commit evil acts. These doers of evil become mere marionettes of their silver-tongued leaders. Perchance, we should strive for a condemnation of their acts and leaders while simultaneously reacting to these poor puppets with compassion and pity for their downfall. After all, Shakespeare ends Macbeth with a mixture of grotesque celebration and dismissal of the evil when, while seeing Macbeth’s head displayed, Malcolm declares he “shall not spend a large expense of time” on Macbeth’s actions before embracing his loyal countrymen in grateful arms.

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Shakespeare’s Kitchen

     It has taken me a while to decide on a topic for my newest entry. In fact, I have partially written several blogs in my head while walking Tug in the quiet nights. A few were rants, inspired by the various idiots in government speaking on radio and TV. In fact, I nearly wrecked my car screaming at the radio when one particular politician was interviewed. However, I don’t intend this blog to take on a politic tone. There are far too many of those around lately, though, I’ll admit, Shakespeare’s plays lend themselves rather nicely to the current political climate. It’s funny how things haven’t changed much over the centuries.

But I digress. Actually, I’ve just always wanted to say that and never seem to catch myself speaking to my classes when I actually do digress. The topic I finally decided on is one everyone can relate to, that is, food.

To begin, I find it absolutely amazing that so many people in the world have never tried my grandmother’s blueberry pancakes, yet claim they know what a good blueberry tastes like. The best blueberries come from Michigan. All the others are far too small or too seedy. The Michigan blueberries of my childhood were always large and juicy with tart skin and sweet flesh. And they never had the annoying habit of depositing seeds in my teeth. Yet, as good as they were fresh, they reached their peak in my grandmother’s pancakes. Her pancakes were large and fluffy with berries cooked just to the bursting point. Instead, they would explode in your mouth or under your fork, mixing with the butter and syrup, which created the most intoxicating of substances. She had several other blueberry recipes, but her pancakes surpassed them all. She taught me herself how to make them, yet somehow mine still aren’t quite as excellent as hers.

Food invokes memories, which is why most modern scientists believe it can bring about the same feelings as other more dangerous drugs. Marcel Proust called it “involuntary memory.” That is, the taste and smell of the food involuntarily stimulates memories, which, as scientist have determined, triggers the release of various chemicals in the body, thus producing an effect similar to that of some drugs. Thus, no pancake I can make will ever be as perfect as my grandmother’s, simply because each time I eat my own, I remember hers and inevitably compare them. Yet, within those memories I also find a comfort from my childhood, remembering those mornings around the table with Papa’s commentary, Grammy’s clinking and clanging in the kitchen, and my older brother stumbling up the stairs toward the kitchen from his basement bed.

The first time I ever really linked Shakespeare and food was as an undergrad when my lovable and eccentric professor surprised us by celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday with homemade goodies baked from Elizabethan recipes. She brought fresh strawberries, clotted cream, short cakes, Shrewsbury cakes, marmalade, and pound cake. It was a very tasty two hours.

No, Shakespeare does not have a play about food. However, his plays are littered with the references to various foodstuffs and drink, and they are placed in a way to invoke those “involuntary memories” in the audience. For instance:

The strawberry grows underneath the nettle

And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best

Neighbour’d by fruit of baser quality:

And so the prince obscured his contemplation

Under the veil of wildness; which, no doubt,

 Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night,

Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty.  (Henry V, I.1.99-105)

So, Shakespeare mentions strawberries, big whoop, right? What he is truly doing is invoking the audience’s memory. Strawberries were a late spring and early summer treat for all classes. They grew in the undergrowth of these “baser quality” plants, yet they provided a perfectly sweet treat for those that searched for them. In the same way, the Prince, now in the “spring” of his manhood, though he has grown under the influence of “baser” men, i.e. Falstaff, will begin to rise and fulfill the ripeness of his promise. Without the memory of the strawberry in the audience’s minds, this reference is no where near as powerful.

Some of Shakespeare’s most powerful food references are to drink. Just as now, some of the most amusing bits of humor tend to be alcohol induced. That’s right, little has changed. Most of Shakespeare’s foolish characters are, at some point, inebriated, causing comic exchanges. One of the most memorable occurs in The Tempest when Caliban, the island savage, is given his first taste of alcohol by the two fools, Trinculo and Stephano. In a raucous scene, Caliban assumes the beverage to be magical, and so, too, its owner.

CALIBAN: Hast thou not dropp’d from heaven?
STEPHANO: Out o’ the moon, I do assure thee: I was the man i’
the moon when time was.
CALIBAN: I have seen thee in her and I do adore thee:
My mistress show’d me thee and thy dog and thy bush.
STEPHANO: Come, swear to that; kiss the book: I will furnish
it anon with new contents swear.[Caliban drinks.] (II.2. 137-143)

Change the time and place, and the scene would resemble a college frat party wherein a brother corrupts one of the innocent pledges during rush week. Vulgar yet funny, as long as you aren’t Caliban/college frosh.

Shakespeare also cleverly uses drink and drunkenness to lighten the terrible darkness of his tragedies. For instance, in Macbeth, we are suddenly introduced to the porter just after the audience has witness Macbeth and Lady M washing their hands of Duncan’s blood:

Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were
porter of Hell Gate, he should have old turning the
key. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there,
i’ the name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer, that hang’d
himself on th’ expectation of plenty. Come in time!
Have napkins enow about you; here you’ll sweat for’t.
(Knock.) Knock, knock! Who’s there, in the other
devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could
swear in both the scales against either scale, who com-
mitted treason enough for God’s sake, yet could
not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator.
(Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there? Faith,
here’s an English tailor come hither, for stealing
out of a French hose: come in, tailor; here you may
roast your goose. (Knock.) Knock, knock! Never
at quiet! What are you? But this place is too
cold for hell. I’ll devil-porter it no further: I had
thought to have let in some of all professions that go
the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire. (Knock.)
Anon, anon! [Opens the gate.] I pray you, remember
the porter. (II.3.1-21)

Here, Shakespeare lightens the mood with a drunken porter bumbling about onstage; yet he uses the fellow to set the scene. Will the Macbeths be caught by those knocking? Are we still in a Scottish castle, or are we truly in hell? He might have added these thoughts in some more serious form, but the addition of a drunkard allows him to create a multi-layered moment of humor and fear. We are meant to laugh at the porter, but with a tinge of fear in the back of our minds.

For those, like me, who spend their spare and professional time studying Shakespeare’s works, one of the many things that can be noticed about his methods are that he is a master at manipulating the senses and memories of the audience. One method he employed was food and drink. So, next time you go to see Shakespeare in the park, pack a picnic, carry a bottle of wine. As you listen to the actors spotting various references, try taking a bite of those foods or sipping those drinks and reflecting on the memories they invoke in you. Then see how you might link those memories to the scene before you. In the meantime, enjoy this lovely 17th century recipe. Bon Appetit!

To make Clouted Cream:

Take Milk that was milked in the morning, and scald it at noon; it must have a reasonable fire under it, but not too rash, and when it is scalding hot, that you see little Pimples begin to rise, take away the greatest part of the Fire, then let it stand and harden a little while, then take it off, and let it stand until the next day, covered, then take it off with a Skimmer. (Taken from “The Queen-like Closet OR RICH CABINET Scored with all manner of RARE RECEIPTS FOR Preserving, Candying and Cookery” by Hannah Woolley, 1672).

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Shakespearean Horror

I recently read Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Dracula. I’d say I don’t know why I took so long to read it, after all, I’ve read and reread the other classics like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, and all of Poe’s tales, but I know the truth. When I was younger, I saw a clip of the classic film, Nosferatu. Frankly, it scared the shit out of me. For over a year, I slept with a clove of garlic on the window frame by my bed, a silver cross around my neck, and my blankets wrapped tightly around my neck and shoulders. Once I outgrew my terror, I did become fascinated by the legends. I’ve long enjoyed the various documentaries on Dracula, as well as the films, including Bela Lugosi’s famed 1931 feature. Yet, I never read the actual story, and I’m sure that in the back of my mind, it would terrify me all over again. And it did, but in a good way. Indeed, I stayed up all evening reading page after page, unable to put it down, even though I had to play nanny at 8:30am. The story was wonderful, intriguing, and exciting. Far superior to anything Ms. Meyer could produce, but I’ll leave that rant for another day. Unlike the various film adaptations, Bram Stoker’s Dracula allows little sympathy for the monster. He is truly evil, and yet, Mina continually reminds the reader and her men that they must pity Dracula’s soul for it has been lost for centuries. It’s a conflict in the book that invades the reader’s subconscious as well. Can such a villain be pitiful? Other versions of the vampire myths have played up their sexiness and their long-lost human side, but the original tales of vampires paint a much different picture. They are truly terrifying and pitying them is the hardest act of all.

The horror genre has gone downhill in the last few decades. Even some of the old B-movie horror films have better plot lines than the current summer blockbuster blood baths. More and more the film makers rely on shock and gore for their ratings and forget the plot line. Perhaps they should read Bram Stoker, or better, Poe. Edgar A. Poe has long been known as the master of horror stories, and it’s true. Even at 25, Vincent’s Price’s portrayal in the film version of Ligeia scares the pants off me. There is very little blood in the entire thing, and the special effects are some of the worst the 70’s ever produced. Yet, every time I find myself startling from sleep having seen that damn black cat in my dreams.

However, Poe was far from the first to produce a good scary tale. Ghost stories and the like have been around to frighten small children when stories were merely an oral tradition, passed from generation to generation. Just read a few classic Irish or German fairy tales if you want proof. Not to mention numerous tales and legends of fallen warriors, haunted woods, evil witches, and cursed lands can be found in nearly every tradition worldwide.

How did Shakespeare use these stories? Well, as the son of a glover, he would’ve heard the old folk tales from customers and suppliers. But he would’ve also known the church’s teachings on the occult since his mother was a member of the Roman Catholic gentry, even though the religion had fallen out of political favor since the death of Mary I. He would’ve also learned the many legends and tales of monsters and the like from Greek and Roman myths in school. Truly, he had a vast array of sources.

But, unlike other playwrights of the time, Shakespeare usually steered clear of the occult. That is, except for one play, Macbeth. Most critics believe that Macbeth was written to gain favor with the new king, James I. The king’s fascination with the occult, especially witchcraft was widely known. He even published the foremost scholarship of the day on the subject. He also had a great interest in his family’s history, as did most of the Tudors. In order to cement his claim on the Scottish throne, he had long claimed a lineage from an ancient Scotsman named Banquo, who helped the supposedly historical Macbeth in gaining the ancient throne. Shakespeare merely altered the story a bit, added the survival of Banquo’s son Fleance and the prophecy of Banquo’s lineage, and boom, instant success, right? Wrong. Or at least, in theatre lore, it’s wrong. While there are many stories on how Macbeth became a cursed play, the two prominent ones feature its first performance. Many actors believe that first and foremost, the play is cursed because Shakespeare used actual witches’ incantations in the play, thus calling their power and curse to the play. The other legend is that after the first performance for James I, the king hated the entire thing, loathed it, actually. There is little historical evidence to back up this claim, but the general belief is that the play flopped. Indeed, the only historical mention of a performance came in April 1611, when it was performed at the Globe. However, since it is believed to have been written between 1603 and 1606, many believe the 1611 performance to be the second. Perhaps Shakespeare hoped that in the intervening years, James might have forgotten his original dislike.

For those outside the theatre world, don’t think you’re being funny and mention Macbeth in a theatre to a theatre nut. We will forcibly remove you, turn you three times, make you spit, utter an obscenity or two, and then wait until you are invited back in. It really isn’t funny to mess with our superstitions.

However, as horror stories go, Macbeth is incredible. It has it all: plotting, murder, witches, dark stormy nights, bloody ghosts, prophecies, and battles. The play even ends with a head on a stake, or sword, depending on the production. But as scary as the weird sisters are, it is Macbeth’s inability to withstand their temptations and the temptations of his wife that produces the most horror. He descends into madness because, at his core, he was a weak man.

Speaking of Lady M, she is by far one of the most terrifying characters in literature. Just listen to her words as she begins to hatch a plan to help her husband usurp the throne.

Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief! (I.iii.40-47)

Yet that’s tame compared to her hissing retort to Macbeth’s hesitation to kill King Duncan.

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 pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this. (I.vii.54-59)

That just sends shivers down my spine. In fact, I’ve often wondered if Shakespeare had a little Classical inspiration for his Lady M in the form of the infamous Medea. In Euripedes’s famous play, Medea kills her children after they have delivered a poisoned diadem to the young princess who Jason, Medea’s husband, has recently announced he will marry in place of Medea. She even takes the bloody bodies of her children with her so Jason cannot properly mourn them. Hell hath no fury, right?

All in all, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a pretty good horror tale. As much as I love him, I wouldn’t say he surpasses some of the other greats of the genre, but he is up there.

“Hell is murky!… Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” (V.i.36, 39-40).

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