Talk:Macbeth

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Date and text deletions[edit]

I have deleted some critical material that was placed in the date and text section. It can be recovered and integrated into the proper section if anyone so chooses, but if they do, please use the same reference citation style. Tom Reedy (talk) 22:51, 25 December 2014 (UTC)

I find the last paragraph of Date and Text to be very unclear if not even contradictory. Does the First Folio contain Middleton's Hecate scenes or not? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.182.50.113 (talk) 12:02, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

I took a swing at clarifying this paragraph (and added citations). Yes, Hecate is part of the First Folio. But her scenes are believed to be additions to Shakespeare's original version (from which the Folio would have been printed), due to it being narratively spurious, metrically irregular, and on account of an unusual stage direction that echoes to Middleton... however these beliefs are not universally accepted by scholars. Henry chianski (talk) 05:22, 16 August 2016 (UTC)


Play date in lead section[edit]

A pre-1603 date for Macbeth is not widely accepted by scholars. The consensus seems to be 1606. More liberally it is 1603-1606. These are the dates supported by the Chronology of Shakespeare's_plays#Macbeth article. I am revising the lead section date to reflect the scholarly consensus of 1606 as per both Arden and Oxford. Henry chianski (talk) 19:00, 16 August 2016 (UTC)

I came here noticing the recent edit in watchlist and am very surprised to find a date of 1599 in the lede. Are there any editors of a scholarly edition that support a pre-1603 date? I'd be surprised to find any seriously advancing a proposal of 03-05, let alone 1599. I only have the Oxford collected and a New Cambridge single-ed, so I haven't changed the lede yet. But I propose that the wording ought to be amended to reflect scholarly consensus (if it is so) of 1606. Authorship gadflies not withstanding, needless to say.  • DP •  {huh?} 19:23, 16 August 2016 (UTC)
HC updated, which is fine with me. But a little concerned about the wording now... it kind of implies written 06, performed 11, which I don't think is an implication we'd want. Not sure the evidence of performance in historical record is most relevant for lede section anyhow and might be undue etc. A more minor note, personally, would prefer to avoid 'believed' in preference for the passive "is thought to have been first performed in 1606" -- it's a conclusion based on weighing evidence by the editors of each edition, not an article of faith. I'll go ahead and edit, but thought i'd explain here first.  • DP •  {huh?} 19:35, 16 August 2016 (UTC)

Unfortunately there isn't standardization across Shakespeare articles, or other plays, in terms of whether "first performance" is notable enough for lead sections, or whether it belongs in "Performance History." I looked at Hamlet, Othello, Lear, Caesar, and a bunch of others, and it really varies. In this case, the 1611 performance (as far I know) is the first mention of the play in any record, and it wasn't published until 1623. As far as "believed" - this term is used in many of these articles rather than "thought" -- I think believed is more formal but I have no strong feeling. Essentially it is all conjecture except for the 1611 performance and 1623 Folio printing. Henry chianski (talk) 19:52, 16 August 2016 (UTC)

Re: conjecture, yes, of course -- in which case the criterion of consensus among the play's scholarly editors applies. My point is that we should avoid the implication that it remained unperformed for five years. About to add another source supporting the new sequence.  • DP •  {huh?} 20:02, 16 August 2016 (UTC)

User:DionysosProteus ...I like your edits & streamlining. The problem now is that the performance date does not match the statements made by the sources (at least Brooke & Clark, the Oxford and Arden versions). The sources don't state that the play was "first performed" in 1606. I think what had been there - 1606 as consensus date of writing, 1611 as first recorded performance - is the most accurate version. But I hear you that "first performance" may be irrelevant for lead. As such, I'm going to change that back to 1606 as written by date. I like your other edits cleaning up the King James info and all the citation clean-ups. Henry chianski (talk) 21:54, 16 August 2016 (UTC)

Thanks. I'm sure I have sources here that'll support the first performed claim, so should be easily enough fixed. I would suggest that the first performance of a play is more important than when it was written (not that that's irrelevant, obvs). There is also a standard argument in Theatre Studies that turns on the -wright/-writer distinction, leading some (Wickham, eg) to use the term "play-maker" to avoid sense of literature being written. For S, of course, functions as that *as well*, but later, historically. But dating performances in this period is notoriously troublesome. I'll try to dig around in what i have later tonight and see what i can find.  • DP •  {huh?} 16:07, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
I reread the latest Arden (3rd) last night and they confirm that Forman 1611 was the earliest account of a performance, so the Performance Hist section seems pretty on-point with that (excepting the questions below about Folio vs Forman). Of course it was probably performed in 1606 but I don't know of any historical account prior to 1611 (thus the Blackfriar's stuff is speculation). Henry chianski (talk) 17:45, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
(Apologies if this is a too detailed - presenting results of examining the sources re:date) Do you or any other editors happen to have access to the Harold Bloom reader that's cited for the 1599 claim? No preview online, unfortunately. It'd be good to take a look at the context for such a dubious claim (who exactly claimed it; does 'scholar' mean a professional or an amateur trying to support an authorship house of cards; what B says about that claim, etc.)... I suspect it's 'undue' for this article to offer 1599 at the first date a Wiki reader encounters in the date section, but obvs it's important to take a close look before changing/deleting it. I might try to tidy up some of the wording in the date section (to say RB 'may' have first performed M is a bit silly, I'd say, and quite undue etc.). For the first performance date, Gurr, Thomson, and Wickham all explicitly state first performance in 1606 and all are major figures in the field (I'll add the citations shortly) -- so we have verifiability for our purposes for what remains the scholarly consensus conclusion. That said, there might be more to say... In general, it would be strange for Shakespeare to have written a play and for it not to be performed by the King's Men soon thereafter, as per standard practice (making 1610/11 of the documented perf extrememly unlikely as the premiere -- indeed, it's unusual to have a contemporary account of that nature for a Shakespeare play, generally speaking). The first performance date is qualified in this particular case, however, by the fact that the playhouses were closed in the second half of 1606 thanks to plague (Braunmuller, 8-9). I'm quite concerned to find that the article in its present form misrepresents Braunmuller's detailed and nuanced discussion in the New Cambridge. He does qualify the claim about the sybils, which prob belongs in a footnote (Eliz was greeted in same way with x3). He doesn't offer any counter-claims/argument for the Porter's equivocating farmer. The ref to the Tiger is "errily precise reference" that puts those lines, at the very least, post-June 06, he says. He categorically does not say, however, that the date is 1603. At the risk of upsetting someone and in lieu of trawling the edit history to find out who wrote it, my sense is that the source has been manipulated somewhat, whether inadvertently or to support a date stretch for 'other' reasons, because the citation gives only the very first part of a substantial section treating the dating and sources (5-8, rather than 2-15). He says, for example, on p. 9 that the King's Men "might have" premiered the play at court in 1606 while the theatres remained closed. He also discusses the possibility that for Macbeth that same argument might hold as that advanced by Parker for Coriolanus (the Oxford single ed. editor) that under the "difficult conditions" of sustained closures from plague, the play was rehearsed in front of a paying audience (p.9 also). Regardless of first performance, he also suggests S "could have" used Camden as a source (1605) and "may have" used a play by Daniel (1605). Nowhere in his intro does he explicitly state his own conclusion about an exact date, but it's clear from the tone of many of the notes that he thinks the balance of probability is post-1605.  • DP •  {huh?} 22:52, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for digging into all that. I do not have access to Bloom. My hunch is that 1599 is referenced as an "earliest" date based on one of the source printings, perhaps? I'd agree that (barring a contrary source) it's undue for this article, given that 1603-1606 is the window for most scholars. Re: Braunmuller, I concur that "argues only for an earliest date of 1603" is a misreading of pages 2-15 and certainly of 5-8 and ought to be removed. Also agree about his discussion of sibyls being more nuanced, and is not a widely-argued point, though here that is cited to Kermode which I don't have. Kermode is also the source for the paragraph about the Porter/Garnet (which could stand a style revision at the very least). Braunmuller even says (p.5) "claims for a topical Macbeth cannot be substantiated and may be circular" -- which undermines the Porter stuff as well as (p.4) the theory that M was performed before King James (in Performance section of article). He also puts "evidence" in quotes in that discussion. I would support a clean-up of these areas. Also agree that Burbage reference seems irrelevant. Of course Burb "probably" premiered many of S's roles, but there is no account of it for MB. Brooke (p.6) says that the beheaded effect was "achieved, no doubt, by a life mask of Burbage" but never says (only implies) that he probably played the role. I am removing those statements therefore. I also think there's something better to note regarding Forman other than the supposed mismatch with the Folio, or a better example at least. Clark/Arden seems to paint Orgel as rather extreme, but I haven't read Orgel. Henry chianski (talk) 18:45, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
Well, there is an idea that I think Chambers first proposed of a Chamberlain's Men Ur-Macbeth, like the Ur-Hamlet, now lost. But no suggestion it was by Shakespeare (if it even existed at all). That might be the source of the 1599 claim, but without Bloom, can't tell.
I think I'm getting a different sense from you of Braunmuller's argument. That might be because we understand the function of equivocation a little differently (see section below)? In truth, my first response to looking at his text was irritation that he hadn't followed the standard New Cambridge segmentation and provided a date section--looks to me like he tried to avoid offering an opinion by doing so (most texts conclude with a "so, on balance of probabilty, 16xx" kind of statement). I'd suggest it doesn't so much undermine the porter equivocator -- it's more that he just fails to offer a counter-argument to explain why it would be inappropriate to link the two. And he suggests it "may" have been premiered for James at court. Thomson argues it was (see section below). I mentioned the sybils since that's the only link he offers evidence against. The others (p.6) are all offered in the form "If, then" with no counter-argument as to why the connection is invalid. He mentions Hawkin's refutation of Paul's theory about the King of Denmark's visit approvingly in a footnote (p.8#n3). I notice too the phrasing on p.9 "hypothesis and circumstantial evidence [...] yet (discussion of English 'scot' plays). I suspect we may just be suffering from an insufficiently diverse section of sources from which to draw for the article. Perhaps there are some studies (Thomson is particularly good for this sort of thing, but there're plenty of others) that focus on Jacobean actors/acting/performances that will help with the sourcing...
I guess Braunmuller's, ha, equivocation soured me to him as a great source for this section. I got the impression he's trying to question all of the theories with "cannot be substantiated" and putting "evidence" in quotes, maybe just covering his butt, and certainly nothing is refuted by this. The equivocation-Garnet connection is widely supported, but a better source must be available than Braunmuller who mentions it in one tentative paragraph. So yes, broadening the sources seems like the best move. This article references a smattering of possibilities: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/gunpowderplot.html
It was the wording of the Burbage bit I wasn't sure about. Braunmuller says ""Richard Burbage, the actor who probably first played Macbeth" p.59. There'll be plenty of sources to support an scholarly consensus thing for verifiability for our purposes, and I think he ought to be mentioned. I'd even suggest he probably belongs in the lede...
I removed it b/c the Brooke citation, which is assumptive, didn't match the statement. If you think it's notable then I'd say put it back in citing the Braunmuller you found. Not sure I agree with the lede, b/c in that case Burbage should be mentioned in every play that he "probably" premiered (only the Hamlet article has him in its lede and some articles don't mention him at all, e.g. Othello ... though that should be remedied). I do think it could go in the lede of the Macbeth_(character) article.
And yes, the problem with Forman is the framing the article gives it, not its presence as such.  • DP •  {huh?} 20:05, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

Shakespeare's day to the Interregnum / Forman[edit]

I don't understand how the excerpted line from Forman's account is relevant? Isn't he referring to 2.2? This is in the Folio, when Duncan is killed and Lady M takes the dagger, and Macbeth wonders if his hands will ever be washed of blood. 5.1 is also in the Folio, when Lady M has her "out damned spot" sleepwalking speech. The statement that "the following does not accord with anything in the Folio text" is pretty weird... am I missing something? Not that Forman's account isn't problematic to scholars, but this example seems useless. Arden, for instance, discusses that Forman not only got some facts wrong about this play but got facts wrong about other plays he recorded seeing, so his discrepancies are hardly the be-all end-all of the debate. The fact that he omits "the apparition scene, or of Hecate, of the man not of woman born, or of Birnam Wood" doesn't seem very convincing... weren't there presumably a lot of details he omitted? I'm not going to edit this right now but just trying to raise the question. I'll reread the Arden and Oxford views on this -- maybe there are more relevant points to make about Forman. Henry chianski (talk) 22:44, 16 August 2016 (UTC)

Strangely, having only glanced through the article when i edited, I was troubled by that bit too.  • DP •  {huh?} 16:03, 17 August 2016 (UTC)

I removed the example given by Orgel of a scene that fails to "accord with anything in the Folio text." Orgel is the only source here and I can't find examples of other scholars singling out this moment as being unusual. Personally I am baffled by Orgel's selection because this seems to me to be Act 2 Scene 2: Macbeth mentions blood on his hands, wonders if it will come out (perhaps implying that he is attempting to wipe it), Lady M takes the dagger, and later is haunted by the blood that does not seem to wash out. If someone can show that Orgel is not an outlier here then this could be restored. Most seem only to agree that Forman's omission of Hecate and the cauldron is odd, only because Forman was apparently obsessed with witchcraft. Forman's account is extraordinarily brief; so of course he omitted most of the play. There seems to be a fringe camp theory that Forman's account is proof of a different text. Contrarily, there is scholarship (Clark, Scragg) suggesting that Forman might be partially remembering Holinshed instead of the play of Macbeth. Henry chianski (talk) 02:08, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

Lede wording[edit]

Thought I'd flag a couple of things too about the lede: (1) I appreciate that summarising is difficult (one of the reasons minor pages are often far better than major ones), but the 'tag-line' "damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake" doesn't seem right to me. Isn't the point not what harm it does to M & LadyM personally, though that is dramatised too, but rather the harm caused more broadly (murders abound, civil war, etc.). And with few exceptions, who doesn't seek power "for it's own sake"? Revolutionaries and idealists seeking to overturn a corrupt social order are one thing, but doesn't the goal given here apply to everyone in Elizabethan/Jacobean plays who experiences "the thirst for reign and sweetness of a crown", as Tamburlaine famously puts it? (2) Also, the bland and generic "It has been adapted to film, television, opera, novels, comics, and other media." seems rather pointless, esp given the prominence it gives to the opera over other adaptations. Which Shakespeare play hasn't been adapted all over the place? If there's something significant to say about that process or particular instances, then that might be different... I don't have a suggestion of a better wording for the tag-line, but perhaps we might agree on something that grasps the dynamic of the play a little more firmly?  • DP •  {huh?} 23:33, 17 August 2016 (UTC)

Agree that the bit about adaptation lengthens the lead without much purpose; it's a universal statement for Shakespeare and every other major playwright. I'm also iffy on whether Henry Garnet deserves lead-status. It only pertains to the Porter scene, hardly the play as a whole, and if anything it should be noted that the play is associated with James' ascension. In fact, is it necessary to discuss sources at all in the lead? Re: the "logline" another option is to omit it and just let the narrative synopsis (2nd paragraph) speak for itself. Henry chianski (talk) 19:04, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

I would suggest that from what I've read in the past couple of days, the Garnet reference does belong there. Thomson in Shakespeare's Professional Career, for example, discusses it in his shortish section on the play (176-179), arguing that the concern with equivocation links Mc with Lear (I point out the shortish nature, since its prominence in such seems relevant). I'd also suggest it's not just the Porter. The Witches equivocate, right? That's what makes them so slippery:

I pull in resolution, and begin

To doubt the equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth: 'Fear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane:' and now a wood

Comes toward Dunsinane.

Other characters do, too. Thomson links it with the modern sense of the politician being "economical with the truth", as distinct from an outright lie. James Shapiro also devotes something like a third of his episode on Equivocation in his TV series The King and the Playwright to that relationship.

True, it is thematically imbued throughout the story. But the play contains scores of themes, references, and associations; Garnet is only one of them. I don't see it as pervasive enough that (for instance) the main characters or plot lines are based on him, in which case I'd say it belongs in the lede... To me it is more appropriate in the current sections.
Except that it is the very thing that makes for the tragedy in plot terms--if the witches had been straight up and not equivocated, he'd be a happy Thane and no one would die. • DP •  {huh?} 03:51, 19 August 2016 (UTC)

I agree that just dropping the logline is the simplest solution, in lieu of bashing out something new.

In passing, the Thomson section has a nice bit about the differences court/globe performances made, arguing that the mirror in the parade of kings was meant to be positioned such that James would have seen his face in it while watching the play (which makes for a very literal embodiment of the King's POV that Foucault talks about).

Interesting!

I've become distracted by Volpone, but I'll come back when I get a chance and add what I've found.  • DP •  {huh?} 19:34, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

Macdonwald?[edit]

The play text says Macdonwald but this article changes that to Mcdonald... why? (Scene 1.2)Henry chianski (talk) 21:20, 27 November 2016 (UTC)