Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Unsex Me Here

My acting teacher would refer to Lord and Lady Macbeth as Hearther and Angus. I cannot help giggling at those names as I read the quote a friend sent me:

"It only recently occurred to me who the Clinton duo remind me of, Lord and Lady Macbeth. Their brazen ambition, shown by their complete disregard for the good of the party they supposedly revere, plays like a Shakespeare play, only in their case I can't decide whether it's tragedy or farce."

My friend did not write it; he found it in the comments on a political blog and we both found it interesting how life imitates art or how life points to flaws in art.

Shakespeare's Macbeth poses a very specific challenge in modern times and now in light of our current election. If the woman is the dominant person in the relationship and the natural power-seeker, why wouldn't Heather seize the crown herself?

There are a hundred reasons why a woman would want to place a man in power even in today's post-suffragist and even post-feminist America. None of these reasons appear to be very interesting at first. Therefore, Macbeth's Scotland is often a fantasy world filled with witches and magic that is very old and very far away - something that we are not connected to. The play thus becomes something very far removed and inaccessible to the audience. Lady Macbeth becomes a monster and Angus withers into nothing more than a puppet.

Once again there are plenty of exceptions one can think of; set it in Africa perhaps - anywhere that seems a little backwards to us "enlightened" Americans. But wouldn't it be fascinating to see the Macbeth's story run parallel to Bill Clinton's run at the White House or perhaps even for George Bush. Everyone is always calling Shakespeare amazing for still being relevant 400 years later, but we need to find new ways to apply it back to our lives. Who can't hear echo's of the media's portrayal of Mrs. Clinton's campaign in Lady M's speech:

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 the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it!

Macbeth Act I Scene v

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