Thursday, July 7, 2011

Macbeth and the tortured artist

Every so often I hear the cliche: tortured artist.
I also read every year from earnest students about Macbeth and his tortured soul, whether it be from my own classes or in the form of national examination essays.

While taking a much needed break from a particularly exciting but exhausting scene, I thought I might muse on these two ideas: tortured artist; tortured soul

Tortured soul
Macbeth was tortured in that what he wanted he suspected could only be gained by foul means but his desire for it was stronger than his acute understanding that if he tried to make it happen as he and his wife planned, then he was doomed: if the assassination/Could trammel up the consequence, and catch/With his surcease success; ...But in these cases
We still have judgment here;'

If by doing the deed [killing Duncan] I could also kill the consequences of such a horrific act then with his death I would have success but unfortunately, there ARE consequences in doing such a horrific deed: killing a king, a cousin, a guest, one who is loved by all. And on earth, that judgement is not just about what others might say but spiritually I run the risk of invoking God's wrath and who knows what HE might do to me?

Macbeth was FULLY aware of the possible aftermath of his intention to kill the king. As a footnote, I would argue that his wife, Lady Macbeth, was naive.

Our class has been watching the 80s docu-drama 'Helter Skelter' as background information to Polanski and his film version of Macbeth. We are reading it through the lens of the play.

Much discussion has been generated about motive and these are what the kids say:
some people are just bad
wanting something blinds you to the aftermath of getting it
Macbeth was fully aware of the consequences but such was his desire for the throne, he was prepared to face those consequences.

I first read 'Macbeth' when I was sixteen. I saw a performance of it at the Court Theatre in Christchurch (I was surprised that at the interval I found my English teacher in tears in the bathroom. She tried to fob us off and say that she was having problems with her contacts.) Later, just before our exams, we all watched the Polanski film version. Then, I was appalled and covered my eyes.

I have taught the play almost every year I have been teaching (I've been in the classroom since 1989). I've written a couple of plays and text books on the play. Sometimes I show the film and I still cover my eyes. Apart from Polanski's portrayal of Ross, I think he did a great job. So far, no other film maker has matched his interpretation.

But, more importantly for me personally, I have written the sequel in novel form. And, in doing so, I have had to read and research and it has brought me to a fresh reflection on the character of Macbeth. That and presenting the text to astute 21st Century teens who have read my novels. And who have witness horrors via the media that I did not when I was their age.

Just realised that I have overwritten the quota by which people read blob posts. I shall deal with tortured artist next time.

And if you have got this far: just a heads up that some of the words I wanted to use I could not spell and my new computer is not as friendly as my old one so I did not say some things I wanted to say.

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