Macbeth marks the first of the five tragedies and histories I’ll be reading in my Shakespeare class. This was my first encounter with the Scottish play, and I’m very happy to have read it, but I think I need to let my thoughts on it settle a bit before I can make a very formed opinion about the text.
My professor, interested in discussing the visual aspects of Shakespeare’s plays, specifically assigned us a graphic novel version of Macbeth to read. Unfortunately, I lasted about 2 scenes before I gave up on reading it that way. Shakespeare is hard enough to read on his own, but the fact that the graphic novel didn’t identify the speakers by name and didn’t include footnotes meant I had no idea what was going on. If I’d had previous experience reading graphic novels or had read Macbeth before, this may not have been an issue, but I had to resort to getting a normal version of the text before I could make any sense of it.
Another thought: as a Harry Potter expert, I felt like J.K. Rowling really pulled from Macbeth throughout the series. Some of the references are obvious — the fact that there’s a band in Rowling’s series called “The Weird Sisters,” a name also given to the three witches of Macbeth — but I also felt like some of the scenes were just generally similar. One scene in particular featuring the witches reminded me of Voldemort’s “reverse baptism” scene at the end of Goblet of Fire, and Macbeth’s bloodthirsty actions as a result of the witches’ predictions also reminded me of Voldemort. (These are all things that would have been helpful had I read this play a year ago when I was writing my Harry Potter thesis project.)
Anyway, I think it’ll take a few class discussions for me to come to a real understanding of Macbeth. But I think it’s safe to say that you know you’re in good hands when you’re reading Shakespeare.