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English III Honors
January 17, 2001
"Personal Connection with Macbeth"
In Harold Bloom's dissertation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, he discusses many different aspects of the play. He also deeply studies the emotions that this play evokes in many people. As a skeptical reader, who believes more in reading for entertainment than for personal revelations, I tend to dismiss "emotional" insights as particular to the less intelligent reader. However, I did find one of his points to be extremely applicable after careful study.
"When Malcolm at the play's end, refers to 'this dead butcher, and his fiend-like Queen,' we are in odd position of having to agree with Duncan's son and of murmuring to ourselves that to so categorize Macbeth and Lady Macbeth seems scarcely adequate," noted Bloom. I find this statement to be immensely true. As I read this speech by Malcolm, I indeed felt mixed emotions.
Certainly, everyone agrees with the fact that Macbeth was a butcher, and as well, his wife a dire fiend. However, these bland yet bold statements barely probe the dark recesses of the enigma that is Macbeth. We feel as though, despite Macbeth's inherent and incredible evil, he should be paid more respect than he is given. The reader seems to want to speak out during Malcolm's speech, almost saying how much of a great man he was, yet paradoxically wasn't..
Why do we identify so intensely with Macbeth? Bloom has an insight: "He so dominates his play that we have nowhere else to turn." I agree whole-heartedly with this hypothesis. Because of the lack of other major characters, it is difficult to find another character to identify with so strongly. However, I would like to elaborate on Bloom's suggestion.
Perhaps our deep connection with Macbeth is similar to that of the one loyal thane portrayed in Roman Polanski's film version of Macbeth. Because we have been with him for such a long time emotionally, we feel that we must root for him, and honor his name. Having witnessed his tragic rise and fall, I feel that we each assume the role of his caretaker, or at least, a respecting employee.
One thing I do not agree with is Bloom's assumption that we are each frightened by the aspects of Macbeth's personality that we identify with. "If we are compelled to identify with Macbeth, and he appalls us (and himself) then we ourselves must be fearsome also," writes Bloom. I disagree. Intelligent and strong minded individuals are in charge of their own fears, and I find it foolish for Bloom to state so matter-of-factly my resultant emotions. Instead, I accept Macbeth and analyze his character, but do not scare myself by imagining myself in his place.
In conclusion, I believe Bloom makes an excellent point when he discusses the personal identification one has with Macbeth. He sometimes makes some points which I believe to a bit presumptuous, but I shall forgive him for that. For once, Bloom seems to make a good point without carrying it too far or being slightly egotistical.
Grade received: A+
Points taken off for 'too much sarcasm
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