Today, we start Macbeth; I hope you share my excitement! Our goal today is to increase your comfort with the greatest writer in the history of our language.
There are numerous reasons why we still read Shakespeare:
- He is awesome (there…I said it.)
- He wrote at a pivotal point in the history of our language. Reading Shakespeare is a little like reading a history of how English has evolved.
- His work is fundamental to our literary tradition. Only the Bible and the Iliad have had more influence on our storytelling.
Another important reason, however, is that reading Shakespeare teaches you how to read unfamiliar and challenging texts. Thus, I will be particularly interested in what you do when you don’t understand a crucial line, plot point, or scene.
Tools at Your Disposal:
- You are always welcome to watch scenes from the play. This version of the play stars Patrick Stewart (Dr. X from the X-Men); the witches are fairly intense, so if horror films bother you, this might not be the version for you.
- We will periodically watch scenes from the Digital Theatre version of Macbeth. It stars David Morrissey, the actor who played the Governor on the Walking Dead.
- We have one graphic novel version of the original text.
- We have 28 copies of a graphic novel with modern text. This will be particularly useful if a section of dialogue confuses you. Remember, however, that you will have to go back to the original text afterwards.
The Basics of Understanding Shakespeare:
there will be some words you don’t understand. Remember to consult the notes on the side of the lines
Shakespeare sometimes uses inverted syntax, which is a fancy way of saying that he plays with the order of words in a sentence. Think of the way Yoda speaks in the Star Wars saga:
Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.
Notice how the subject and the verb come after the object. Let’s experiment with inverted syntax by having you tell me what you did yesterday in inverted syntax.
Next, we will use Shakespearean insults to make you more comfortable with his word choice. I hope you are ready to act…