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Lecture 7

EN 3535 Lecture 7: EN 3535 - Winter

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EN 3535
Deanne Williams

EN 3535 03.02.17 The Hand in Macbeth • One of the most prominent and suggestive symbols in Shakespeare o Titus, Othello, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet • One of the key ideas in Titus is the severed hand, idea of dismemberment • Clasped hands o My hand and heart, in one agree, What can you more desire of me? o Symbol of friendship, honesty, trust, good faith, hospitality, unarmed intent (lack of weaponry) o King Macbeth and Lady Macbeth hide devious intent behind gestures that are supposed to speak of truth and honesty o Macbeth’s betray everyone around them, aware of what the handshake means but disregard it in various ways o Important moment in the beginning, captain of the army is talking about Macbeth’s success in battle (1.2.18); Which ne’er shook hands nor bade farewell to him/ Till he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chaps” ▪ In this moment that we hear of, Macbeth refuses the handshake, in rejecting this and all it stands for, we see Macbeth knowing he’s going to kill this person and so is honest in his refusal to shake this man’s hand; replaces it with the bloody execution of the sword; civil hand, bloody sword o Oath of hospitality that Lady Macbeth breaks while entreating her husband to bear welcoming his hand, eye, tongue, to look like the innocent flower but to be the serpent under it; make use of gestures and symbols of trust that people buy into so we can do what we need to do by masking ourselves with those truth; Lady Macbeth is very aware of what those signals mean o Duncan arrives at their home, Lady Macbeth is requested the gentle hand of hospitality; we know what they’re intending, so this is an important moment of dramatic irony, we know she’s corrupting the handshake in this moment ▪ Tension of intention is heightened at this moment because we know what lady Macbeth intends and we know that Duncan cannot see that ▪ We get this idea that Duncan isn’t a great judge of character, not one that reads signals and devious intent; tension is high on both ends • Royal Hands; kingship and power o Queen Elizabeth’s/King James’s portraits ▪ She was always proud of her hands, wanted them displayed in portraiture; holding the orb and sceptre, symbolized power over the earth; holding the olive branch, glove and fan symbolizing peace and status while a sword is lying at her feet o Not only holding an object but the hand itself o Divine King vs. Human King ▪ Divine – Duncan and Edward • Healing hands, moment where Malcolm and the doctor are talking about Edward and how there’s a plague running rampant, and Edward can heal them with his hands; Shakespeare is very significantly pointing to the King’s
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