Right from its famous opening scene which begins, “Thunder and lightning. Enter Three Witches” The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare holds the reader fast in a stirring, monumental experience that plumbs the depths of the human soul and reveals its most morbid secrets. The play is set in medieval Scotland. It is based partly on historical facts and recounts the tale of Macbeth, who was a king in Scotland, according to The Holinshead Chronicles, a book published in 1577. This book was extensively used by contemporary playwrights like Shakespeare and Marlowe as inspiration for their themes, characters and events. Though Shakespeare did use some of the material found in Holinshead, the final product is entirely his own and he fleshed-out and created most of the principal characters himself in a play that is considered his darkest, most ominous and most powerful tragedy. The Tragedy of Macbeth is also one that explores the nature of the supernatural in our lives. The play begins with Macbeth and Banquo, two army generals in the employ of their king, Duncan, returning victorious from two different wars. As they cross a dark and lonely heath, they encounter three women who predict that Macbeth will be named Thane of Cawdor and one day reign as King of Scotland and that Banquo will beget an illustrious line of noble descendants who will one day rule the land, though Banquo himself will never reign. The two men are skeptical, but their disbelief begins to vanish when messengers arrive with the news that Macbeth has been elevated to the rank of Thane of Cawdor! This sets off a train of devastating events. Macbeth's ambitious and evil wife, Lady Macbeth, is willing to go to any lengths to achieve her ends. Plots, treason, murder, ghosts, war and suicide follow, in a terrible mélange. Macbeth is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy. It deals with issues that are relevant even today. The overarching greed for power at any cost, the breakdown of morality, corruption and unbridled ambition, cruelty and its effect on the soul, omens and portents, superstitions and violence are some of the dark themes explored. Since it was first performed in the 1600s, Macbeth has remained one of the most widely enacted plays in the world, been translated into hundreds of world languages, given contemporary twists, adapted for film, television, studied in schools and universities and been the subject of psychological, sociological and political research. Ultimately, it remains one of the most remarkable portrayals of the shadowy and unlit spaces of the human heart.
Right from its famous opening scene which begins, “Thunder and lightning. Enter Three Witches” The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare holds the reader fast in a stirring, monumental experience that plumbs the depths of the human soul and reveals its most morbid secrets. The play is set in medieval Scotland. It is based partly on historical ... Show more