A Spectator’s Role
Chapter Nine: Macbeth: Satisfying the Spectator
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Macbeth: Satisfying the Spectator
Many years ago, having to give a lecture on Throne of Blood, the Kurosawa film of Macbeth, I realized that I had never taught or written about the play before, for numerous reasons. First, the play seemed so gloomy in tone; and it was often performed in semi-darkness. A. C. Bradley says “almost all the scenes which at once recur to the memory take place at night or in some dark spot.” (Riverside, 1307). Such gloomy impressions are universal, truly world-wide, for in the context of the 2014 Bengali production of Macbeth, directed by Kaushik Sen, in a highly political application to the contemporary Bengal, Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay observed: “When a person goes to watch a play, not only does he expect a ‘hero,’ but also an antagonist who will oppose him. Then the viewer can identify with the protagonist and leave the hall with a sense of contentment and empathy. Macbeth does not give us this opportunity.” (Sohini Kumar, Ageless Political Empathy in Shakespeare) Sen’s production ended with the impression that Malcolm would prove no better than the Macbeth he has overthrown, and that he might well be succeeded in similar brutal fashion by Fleance. This conclusion was matched in Zeffirelli’s earlier film production, of which the final shot showed the new King Malcolm’s envious younger brother, Donalbain, on his way to consult with the witches.
With such performances current, it is not surprising that...
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