Macbeth ( full title The Tragedy of Macbeth) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare; it is thought to have been first performed in 1606.[a] It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek ...
Author: William Shakespeare
Macbeth ( full title The Tragedy of Macbeth) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare; it is thought to have been first performed in 1606.[a] It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. Of all the plays that Shakespeare wrote during the reign of James I, who was patron of Shakespeare's acting company, Macbeth most clearly reflects the playwright's relationship with his sovereign. It was first published in the Folio of 1623, possibly from a prompt book, and is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy.
Shakespeare's four-hundred-year performance history is full of anecdotes – ribald, trivial, frequently funny, sometimes disturbing, and always but loosely allegiant to fact. Such anecdotes are nevertheless a vital index to the ways that Shakespeare's plays have generated meaning across varied times and in varied places. Furthermore, particular plays have produced particular anecdotes – stories of a real skull in Hamlet, superstitions about the name Macbeth, toga troubles in Julius Caesar – and therefore express something embedded in the plays they attend. Anecdotes constitute then not just a vital component of a play's performance history but a form of vernacular criticism by the personnel most intimately involved in their production: actors. These anecdotes are therefore every bit as responsive to and expressive of a play's meanings across time as the equally rich history of Shakespearean criticism or indeed the very performances these anecdotes treat. Anecdotal Shakespeare provides a history of post-Renaissance Shakespeare and performance, one not based in fact but no less full of truth.