Macbeth, a Postscript

I left out two important things from my recent post on Macbeth.

One, a taste of the play itself. The witches get many of the good lines, but Lady Macbeth’s speeches stirred me most:

…Come, you Spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood,
Stop up th’access and passage to remorse;
That no compunctious visitings of Nature
Shake my fell purpose, no keep peace between
Th’effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murth’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on Nature’s mischief! Come, thick Night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of Hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor Heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry, ‘Hold, hold!’ (I. v. 40-54)

Also, as I did with Hamlet, I saw details in Macbeth that I think Dostoevsky echoes in Crime and Punishment’s Raskolnikov: a murderer torn by doubt, whose guilt nearly destroys him, but who eventually acknowledges his deed and seizes back his own destiny. Macbeth and Raskolnikov met with very different fates, perhaps because they had very different women by their sides–Macbeth’s ambitious Lady M versus Raskolnikov’s hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Sofya. Since many things in Macbeth echo those in Hamlet (e.g., Lady Macbeth’s wish to “pour my spirits in thine ear,” I. v. 26), I’m not surprised to find echoes of both in the later Russian work. I hope, in my not-very-copious free time, to research this Shakespeare/Dostoevsky connection I detect.

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