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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Macbeth's secret?

Weird Lady Gaga Macbeth
playing Hecat[e]

In Shakespeare's Macbeth we are told all sort of ugly things about the protagonist, but is there one more? In V.1.41 ff. Lady Macbeth in her somnambulism is obsessed with the Macduffs: "The Thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now?" and "There's knocking at the gate," with reference to the morning after the assassination of King Duncan (II.3). Maybe, she had some special reason to hate Lady Macduff, therefore 'encouraging' Macbeth -- off stage -- to have her killed.
In IV.3.57-58 the head of the resistance, Duncan's son Malcolm, describes Macbeth as "luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful, / sudden, malicious". . . All adjectives square, except for the first one; when is Macbeth ever shown as lecherous? Or, did he entertain a secret love affair with Lady Macduff? As a matter of fact, in V.7.33 ff. he still feels remorse for her death when he meets Macduff in the final battle: "Of all men else I have avoided thee. / But get thee back; my soul is too much charged / with blood of thine already."
This would cast a special light on Lady Macduff's words in IV.2.41, after her husband's cowardly escape from Fife: "Why, I can buy me twenty [men] at any market," possibly including the best party in the neighborhood.

P.S. In the final lines, the now dead and beheaded Macbeth is defined a "butcher" by Malcolm. He was a butcher from the very beginning (I.2), but then usefully so -- that only makes the difference. Intelligenti pauca.