You will notice that I have placed
Shakespeare's characters in modern clothes, believing as
I do, that this story of souls corrupted by selfish
ambition and rabid desire for power can be retold in any
society and in any generation.
Similarly, I would like to draw your
attention to the framework in which Shakespeare places
the tragedy of Macbeth. The play begins and ends
with government in the hands of righteous rulers.
When Duncan, the just king, is murdered, cruelty,
disorder, and suffering occupy the land. When
Malcolm, the righteous king, replaces the wicked
Macbeth, justice and harmony return to the country.
In this framework, Macbeth's choices are tragic not only
for himself, but for all who are connected to him as
family, friends and countrymen.
Good and evil are clear elements in
this play. Witchcraft and murder are on one side,
innocence and righteousness are on the other. As
to how one can move from one side to the other is a bit
more subtly but definitely asserted in the play.
Early on, Banquo states that instruments of evil to win
us to our harm deceive us with partial truths. If
we take this statement as a key for the rest of the
play, then we can see that the work of the witches is
first to deceive Macbeth and second to destroy him.
Herein is the tragedy: that the work of deception
becomes complete when the human being is utterly
destroyed. I suppose I should also comment on the use of
televisions on our stage. In a materialistic and
technological society, we scoff at witches as
archaic mediums of evil.. But, in the 1611 King James
Version of the Bible, contemporary to Shakespeare, the
devil is called "the prince of the power of the air, the
spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience" in
Ephesians 2:2. Therefore, I wonder if the very
instruments we trust to be telling us the truth, the
people who go "on the air" and, thus, enter our homes,
could at times deceive us. Oh, well, at least the
television sets make things appear and disappear onstage
- a poor man's special effects.