Upon my head they plac'd a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If 't be so,
For Banquo's issue have I fil'd my mind. Macbeth (3.1), Macbeth
Macbeth has killed Duncan and has become king of the Scots, yet he believes his crown is in jeopardy. The menace is Banquo. Like Macbeth, Banquo knows that there were two key parts to the unearthly revelation: first, that Macbeth will become king, and second, that Banquo will beget future kings. Macbeth fears Banquo is planning a coup to hasten the day of triumph for his heirs. Read on...
Points to Ponder
"Macbeth (as I have said and as others have said before me) curiously resembles Greek tragedy in a dozen ways, of which I will mention but one more. Though it is full of blood and images of blood, the important blood-shedding is hidden, removed from the spectator's sight. There is, to be sure, a set scene for Banquo's murder: but it can be omitted without detriment to the play, and, in fact, always is omitted. Duncan is murdered off the stage; Lady Macbeth dies off the stage; Macbeth makes his final exit fighting, to be killed off the stage. There is nothing here like the "blood-bolter'd" culmination of Hamlet" [Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, Shakespeare's Workmanship]. Read on...
According to scholar Tucker Brooke, the first recorded performance of Macbeth in America was in 1765 at the John Street Theatre in New York.
On Macbeth's Indifference
"One commentator sees in Macbeth's language at the announcement,
"The queen, my lord, is dead,"
the perfect indifference of a heartless criminal to the fate of the wife who had been so faithful to him. Another thinks Lady Macbeth's death touches him in the only remaining vulnerable point, and calls forth some "deeply serious, solemn, elegiac strains." To us there is spoken a different story still. In these words is embodied a degree of combined bitterness and contempt which could only be wrung from a strong heart driven to the last extreme of desperation" [N. B. Bowman]. Read on...