n Shakespeare in Southern Africa - Macbeth's rites of violence : essay and review

Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-582X



Violence is the heart and soul of . It permeates the action and the narrative; it clings to the characters; it infects and controls the imagination of each of the personae. There is no respite, no real relief from violence in any tiny nook or large landscape of the drama. In many ways this is Shakespeare's most hopeless play; no moment is free of danger and dread, while catastrophe seems constantly imminent. Good news itself is tempered with anxiety. When the witches bring the tidings of Macbeth's elevation to Thane of Cawdor, his body seems to act independently of his will. Macbeth informs his wife of the good things that have happened to him, and she sees only a bloody staircase to the future. The sadness of the play is housed in Macbeth's terrible, passionate regret, itself the product of a violence that looms and lingers in the play; it never goes away or gets less.

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