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ENG220Y1 Lecture Notes - Phlegm, Gender Bender, Tuberculous Cervical Lymphadenitis

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Elizabeth Harvey

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014
6:13 PM
February 5, 2014
February 12, 2014
First performance was done around 1606
The text is based on the first folio printed in 1623
Is a tragedy = serious and important actions that end disastrously for hero or central
Spirits were essential in physiology; as ethereal messengers; communicators within the
Spirits are the emanating parts of the body; when it leaves the body, it dies
Debates about what a spirit and soul were during that time
Part of a person's essence that remains on earth after death; inhabits the world
especially if the person had an unhappy death
Goes together with the lore of witchcraft and magicians
Similar to Richard III in terms of themes, yet has more of an tangental relationship with
The source of the play comes from R. Holenshed's "The Chronicles of Ireland"
Elizabeth I died without an heir, the people were anxious as her death approached since
she was lenient in terms of religion -- before the monarchs enforced religious conversions
Her successor was James I who reigned from 1603-25; his mother was Mary Queen of
Scots who thought she had the right to take over Elizabeth's place as queen; her half
sister was Mary Tudor who was the Queen before Elizabeth, concocted a plot against
Elizabeth and was Mary Queen of Scots was executed by Elizabeth in 1587
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James I was not initially accepted by the English since he was a Scotsman
Had a complicated relationship with catholicism
In 1605, there was a conspiracy to blow him up by placing 36 barrels of gunpowder
underneath the Parliament buildings
The conspirators were captured and executed for treason such as Guy Fawkes and
Father Henry Garnet, head of the Jesuits in England
James I wrote "Demonlogie"
The "Witch Craze" or "Hunt" occurred during the end of the 15th century
Mass hysteria
Highly sexualized, searching a woman's body for signs of them being witches
Act One:
oRhyme is used; the three witches are connected because they exchange words
in constant rhyme
oThe rhymes knit them together as a single body almost
oThey notice events, but don't feel affected by it; they are indifferent
oWhen it rhymes, it sounds like a spell; using language to create images that
could be mistaken for real
o"fair is foul and foul is fair" = a chiasmus, the crossing between the two
o"fog and filthy air" -- air is drawn attention to over and over again in this play
oMacbeth is put on a pedestal
oPrepares us for the double discourse
oReflects the prophecy
oThe audience has an enlightened view of what's going on that the characters
don't know
oScene enveloped by the scenes with the witches; a double perspective
oSeeds are planted to foreshadow Macbeth's later deeds
oThe witch is conjuring a storm for a petty insult for not being able to eat chestnuts
oThe realm of the domestic shifts to a storm
oRevenge is a communal act here; all about the social
oShows that the witches can't make the women give away her chestnuts; shows
that they didn't force Macbeth to do his evil deeds, that was his doing and choice
oMacbeth using the same idiom of the witches to describe the weather
oBanquo describes the witches as the thresholds of this earth, of gender, and of
oThe prophecies don't seem to make sense, but are rooted in history, in the ideas
of aristocracy, inheritance
oIn kindling of desire and ambition
oWhat is the nature of prophecy; are they instruments of the devil and does it
insight desire and evil or simply a prophecy of neutrality and good
oMacbeth echoes the witches
oThe Thane of Cawdor and Macbeth share the same name; on becomes the hero
after becoming a hero; the other becomes a traitor after becoming a hero
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