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Macbeth

by William Shakespeare
272 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jeanne

A fine example of Shakespearian tragedy, but with a good deal of violent content.

Plot

When Macbeth, general of the forces of King Duncan, encounters three witches who tell him he may rise from general to duke to king, he is overcome with greed. His own wife, Lady Macbeth, would hasten the day of her husband's reign by having him murder King Duncan; following her lead, Macbeth plunges himself into the darkness of remorse and further greed.

Morality

Macbeth is obviously grief-stricken with his choice to murder the king, knowing it is wrong. He becomes more and more power-hungry as the tale progresses, murdering yet another man in an attempt to keep his throne. "Right" and "wrong" are kept in the background of this play, though Macbeth's actions are clearly portrayed as wicked.

Spiritual Content

Three witches factor into the tale often, and the goddess of witchcraft also appears. The ghost of a man Macbeth murders is seen. One mention of a monastery.

Violence

Several people in this story are murdered, still more die in battle. King Duncan's murder is not seen, only referenced the morning after the event. The play climaxes in a battle in which many people die and a character's head is cut off.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine is drunk.

Sexual Content

Lady Macbeth expresses the wish to have her femininity taken away that she might kill Duncan herself. The witches, though women, have beards. Mentions of an illegitimate son are glanced over.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Oaths are made; God's name may be taken in vain once or twice, but by no means often in this play. There is no bawdy humor at all.

Conclusion

"Macbeth" has been called the best of Shakespeare's tragedies, blending history with a large portion of fiction. The ill effects of greed, power-lust, etc., have a large part of this tale; Macbeth's character is well drawn, as is his wife's. The other men and women in this narrative become very much alive as the reader turns the pages.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: adult

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