Summary: a Tragedy About the Perils of Ambition

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 The play is like a kaleidoscope as it reveals different patterns, meanings, and interpretations every time it is read or performed on stage. It can be viewed as a psychological study of a murderer’s mind, a play of illusions showing the effect on human beings of the mysterious or supernatural, a classic tragedy, a play of political and social realism or a historical thriller. The themes and imagery in Macbeth are endless and recurring. These include major themes such as ambition, order and disorder, equivocation, guilt and conscience, appearance and reality, pure evil. Further, the play is rich in imagery that carries powerful significance and such include the darkness and light, sleep, clothes, feasting and hospitality, blood, disease, and medicine.

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If Macbeth is depicted within the context of plays that indulge in generic mixture, and are immersed within the context of the dynamics of change, the question put forth can determine to what extent Macbeth is a generic dichotomy with regard to genre borrowing of the Gothic era and to what extent (if it meets the requirements on a literary basis) it can be categorized as a depiction of a gothic forerunner.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a prime example of his classic playwrights which are ingrained in curriculums in secondary schools, especially in advanced courses. The intent of including classic literature such as Shakespeare in classrooms, especially in foreign language classrooms (ESL/EFL), is for students to develop language-communicative skills. In addition, the students should learn the handling of media, as well as acquire presentation techniques. Further, students should acquire cultural competences. In addition to the acquisition of cultural knowledge, this involves the development of intercultural competencies. Last but not least, the English language classroom aims to foster the use of texts – including authentic, appropriate reading. At the interface of literary didactics and cultural didactics, the introduction to Shakespeare takes place. The treatment of his dramas involves the handling of cultural goods and the literary text and getting to know the genre of drama.

When analysing the content in question, it is important to mention that Shakespeare’s reading in class seems to be in tension between outstanding cultural-literary relevance and excessive overburdening of students due to various factors such as the complexity of his language. The study of Macbeth offers a variety of teaching approaches which include the theoretical approach which can be text-based, for instance close reading and in-depth analysis of scenes. Also, a practical approach such as acting out scenes and offering a more modern spin on classic literature is possible.

The play fits in the genre of tragedy and yet displays a wide variety of genre borrowing with respect to the many Gothic features depicted in many scenes, the characters, the settings and certainly the tone and language of the play. Thus, the content in question stretches the play’s core genre in order to go into detail on the gothic influence and ponder to what extent Macbeth is a forerunner of Gothic literature in the play being ahead of its own time and predating the Gothic era.

As Gothic literature focuses on humanity’s fascination with the grotesque, the unknown and inexplicable aspects of the universe and the human soul, it fits to introduce students to this facet of Macbeth. Firstly, the characters in Macbeth have many Gothic traits and often set the mood for dangerous, malevolent acts that are unique to and add to the Gothic atmosphere. These pertain to the three witches that cast the mood for the entire play with respect to their sinister, nursery rhyme sounding incantations which stand out in stark contrast from the blank verse spoken by other characters. It is said that Shakespeare’s Macbeth was written between 1604 and 1606. In turn, Shakespeare’s time was marked by witches who were feared and people used to believe in them and witchcraft in general. It is noteworthy that the inversion of the natural order is evident in the witches’ languages as they often utter contradictions. Therein lies the play’s strong sense of moral confusion as the underlying implication states that nothing is quite as it seems. This is certainly comparable with the core elements of Gothic fiction which include the unknown, the supernatural forces or evil spirits that can also be found in Macbeth. The content in question also includes a particular emphasis on Shakespeare’s tone which entails his use of language that reflect many salient features that are attributed to Gothic fiction.   

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