Macbeth is one of the most common plays taught in high school. Unfortunately, my teacher chose a different curriculum than the rest of the 12th grade class and I did not read Shakespeare that year. But thankfully, another opportunity came my way.
So in case you aren’t too familiar with the play (I’m hoping you at least recognize the name!) it is about a guy named Macbeth who hears a prophecy from three witches that proclaims him Thane of Cawdor and then, “King, hearafter.” Macbeth is a greedy guy (and so is his wife) so he attempts to hurry things along by having his wife kill the current king and his heir. The sons escape, but the King dies – proclaiming Macbeth as King. Then the greedy Macbeth becomes paranoid that the witches’ prophecy to his friend, Banquo – that his descendents will be King – will come true. So he orders the death of Banquo and his son. Banquo dies, son fleas. But lo and behold, Macbeth has a conscience and feels guilty he had his friend killed. So he calls the witches to give him some reassurance. They give it to Macbeth by telling him to be ware of Macduff. Until this point Macbeth had no problems with the guy, but suddenly, a greedy, paranoid King decides to kill Macduff before he kills Macbeth. The witches give him another prophecy – he will not die by someone born of a woman. Poor Macbeth, he thinks this means he’s invincible. Macduff was apparently “ripped from his mother’s womb” too early and thus, not born of a woman. And so Macbeth dies by Macduff’s sword.
The play, was fairly easy to read and rather enjoyable. I enjoyed the comedy surrounding the absurd behavior of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. I can see why it is taught often in high schools, it has a fairly simple plot and is not hard to read. Of course, there are the lessons about greed, jealousy, selfishness, desire of something that is not yours, etc, but it still is rather simple. Most people already know these lessons by the time they read it. There isn’t something new to explore in the text. I’d like to each some of his other less-known plays to give people the chance to really read and understand Shakespeare. Of course this doesn’t mean ignore the overly taught ones, but just try to change it up some more.