Overview of Macbeth

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Not surprisingly, Macbeth has received volumes of critical commentary over the years. Not only is the play an audience favorite, but its complex characterization, deeply woven themes, and characteristic Shakespearean style make it rich ground for scholarly inquiry. Critics such as Harold Bloom have remarked on the importance of Macbeth in the context of Shakespeare 's works. In Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Bloom writes, ' 'The rough magic in Macbeth is wholly Shakespeare 's; he indulges his own imagination as never before, seeking to find its moral limits (if any). ' ' Bloom also remarks, ' 'Macbeth is an uncanny unity of setting, plot, and characters, fused together beyond comparison with any other play of Shakespeare 's. '…show more content…
' ' As evidence, he notes how, although she is a strong character, Lady Macbeth is onstage very little; and readers do not have the chance to get to know other characters, such as Duncan, Malcolm, Banquo, and Macduff very well.

Although the minor characters appear only briefly (usually because they are murdered) and their personas are not fully developed, readers and critics are drawn to them. Duncan, for example, is held up as an example of a good king in contrast to Macbeth 's figure as a bad king. Van Doren remarks, ' 'Duncan was everything that Macbeth is not. We saw him briefly, but the brilliance of his contrast with the thane he trusted has kept his memory beautiful throughout a play whose every other feature has been hideous. ' ' Similarly, Lady Macduff and her son appear fleetingly, but their fate evokes the pity of the audience and rouses more indignation toward Macbeth.

A substantial body of criticism addresses Lady Macbeth. Her importance in the play and her position as a dominant woman in Western literature have prompted lengthy discussion and character evaluation. Ribner juxtaposes Lady Macbeth with Banquo in her role in Macbeth 's psychological makeup. He maintains that while Banquo represents the part of Macbeth 's divided nature that would ' 'accept nature and reject evil, ' ' Lady Macbeth represents the other
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