Fridge / Macbeth


Fridge Brilliance
  • Macbeth's death in his fight against MacDuff, and the partial redemption for his evil that came from dying in a fair fight rather than killing by proxy - it was foreshadowed at the start of the play, when the thanes execute the traitorous former Thane of Cawdor and comment that "Nothing in his life/Became him like the leaving it". The two Cawdors both acted against their countrymen, eventually dying for their deeds but redeeming themselves in their last moments.
    • MacDuff actually at one point says directly of MacBeth that "He has no children". I also noticed the apparent contradiction when Lady MacBeth says she has 'given suck', and came to the conclusion that she'd either had a child by someone other than Macbeth [yes, she did - check out Holinshed (Maven)], or - more probably - they had had a child who had died. Which, as you say, just adds a whole new layer to the play.
      • Actually, that "He has no children" is very ambiguous. It could refer to Malcolm's callous attempts to comfort Macduff after Macduff has just gotten news of his family's deaths.
    • They built on this layer for a production that I saw in Stratford in 2011. The witches were not crones, but children, and they used dolls to explain the prophesy and the apparitions. Later, though, those exact same children with those exact same toys were MacDuff's children (and they were just as creepy). They emphasized all the mentions of children in the production.
  • The bit about Lady MacBeth not being able to kill King Duncan because he looked so much like her father. Shakespeare probably didn't mention it because his audience would have known that Lady MacBeth and Duncan were first cousins; her father was Duncan's father's younger brother. (Which explains why MacBeth was able to take the throne; he was a Royal In Law already, AND a war hero.)
    • Moreover, MacBeth was Royal kin on his own account - he and Duncan were first cousins, as their mothers were both daughters of Malcolm II (who had no sons). Maven
  • In Macbeth, Shakespeare breaks many standard writing tools. The main character is very unlikable, as is his wife, and the climax of the story is at the beginning. Despite this, the play is still amazing and one of Shakespeare's best known works. On top of this, since the majority of the story takes place after the climax, that drives in the theme that this is a story about how Macbeth falls from his highest point. There's some symbolism for you. -Froggy
  • Macbeth is widely known as a tragedy; however, if you think about it, it's not. What was Shakespeare trying to evoke from the audience? It wasn't anger, humor, or heartwarming - it was terror. Shakespeare wrote the first horror story to ever be performed.
    • Well, Aristotle's classical definition of a tragedy is of a play inspiring both terror and pity in the viewers, and this definition applies perfectly to Macbeth.
  • In the second scene of the play, when the Sergeant is recounting Macbeth and Banquo's victory over Macdonwald's fleet, he drops the rather memorable line "As whence the sun 'gins his reflection, shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break...". It's likely meant to be a bit of figurative language...but, somewhat conspicuously, the very next line has the Witches describing a past incident where they magically conjured up a storm to wreck a merchant captain's ship. The line can be taken as a subtle hint that the Witches also had a hand in Macbeth's successes on the battlefield, and that they were pulling the strings in Macbeth's life from the get-go.
  • An interesting observation is how the play treats the subject of "manhood". Macbeth and Macduff, each a natural Foil to the other, naturally represent directly opposite ideals of masculinity. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have a few talks about manhood, and in their villainous context, they always talk about how a man must be devoid of feeling or emotion to be truly manly. Lady Macbeth advises Macbeth to shut down all his feeling and emotions to be a true man and kill Duncan, and over the course of the play Macbeth acts accordingly and slowly becomes a Empty Shell (like when Lady Macbeth dies, and Macbeth is so emotionally stunted at this point his reaction is violent indifference). Meanwhile, Macduff's scene after his family's death with Malcolm directly counters that idea, for in it he tells Malcolm how he must grieve and shed tears like a man would, and openly weeps and feels pain from their loss. Furthermore, Macbeth's prophecy of "no man of woman born can harm him" implies Macbeth views himself as above those tainted by feminity due being "of woman born", implying a supremacy of masculinity. Macduff, therefore, is the living antithesis of that concept, for he is both a manly man and a man who, while born of C-section, ultimately came from a woman, thus showing masculinity needs not to reject feminity its entirely. In other words, Macbeth vs Macduff is not only a case of Emotions Versus Stoicism (on which emotion prevails), but most importantly, it is one of the earliest examples of Toxic Masculinity in the form of King Macbeth, while Macduff represents healthy masculinity (which ultimately triumphs over its more toxic counterpart).


Fridge Logic
  • Wouldn't Macbeth have already known that Macduff was born via cesarean section? Granted, they're not that close, but he must have known that Macduff's mother died giving birth to him and that he was born earlier than usual, and thus joined the dots?
    • Premature births aren't that uncommon, and childbirth was the leading cause of death among women well into the 20th century (infections and blood loss, primarily). Also, in Shakespeare's day, c-sections would have been pretty much mythological, and even moreso in Macbeth's. Also, how often do you discuss the cirumstances of your birth with your mates?
      • Well, precisely, if he was born in a very strange, quasi-mythological way, Macduff would have reasons to be proud of it, as a foreshadowing of a demigod-like destiny for instance.
      • Macduff's portrayal is that of a silent, grim type, partly because he doesn't really get a lot of focus but also because he really seems to prefer actions over words. Even in the battle of Macbeth he explicetly says "I have no words for thee, my voice is in my sword". It'd fit with his character that he doesn't really talk all that much about his past or his mother, thus Macbeth being blindsided by Macduff being "from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd".
    • He may have known Macduff's mother died in childbirth but not the exact details. Or the more likely option - he misinterpreted what the witches said. He may have thought it referred to a Mr. Seahorse phenomenon or some being that magically appears out of thin air (hey, he just talked to three witches that can predict the future). He may have known about Macduff's birth but didn't realise it until the man said - then he goes Oh, Crap! and gets what the prophecy meant.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Fridge/MacBeth