Letter to Shakespeare
Having studied the play, “Macbeth”, imagine that letters can be sent to the past and that Shakespeare is living in retirement at Newplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. You decide to write him a letter telling him about the success of his play, “Macbeth”, in the 21st century and this play is still being read and performed and filmed.
Dear William Shakespeare,
I am writing to you from the 21st century as we have developed a new way which allows us to write letters to people in the past.
I am very glad to tell you that your play, “Macbeth”, has become very successful. People admire what you have done in Macbeth. Macbeth is very relevant today for example we have women like Lady Macbeth, as well as men plotting evil crimes. Macbeth has something we call timeless themes, timeless themes are things that are written about in the past but still occur in every day life and are relevant to people now.
The people of the 21st century are very fond of the characters you put into Macbeth. They like how Macbeth changed from a noble character to an evil villain. The thoughts that go through his mind interest them a lot. The way Macbeth’s conscience takes a hold of him and grows to be a hurdle as he progresses through the play.
The social and cultural attitudes of people of my time have changed vastly. People in the Elizabethan time respected and feared the monarchy for example in act 5; scene 7, Macbeth’s soldiers were fighting not because they loved him but because they were afraid that he might kill them. The monarchy also had all the power. I am not saying that everyone does not respect the monarchy but the majority of people do not. The people of our time are not scared of the monarchy now either as the people have realised that the parliament have the most power now. The monarchy is more of an iconic figure that shows the heritage of Britain and has a less important role in the running of the country.
Macbeth emphasised witchcraft in numerous ways but the thrill for witchcraft has died down in our time. Witchcraft was very popular in your time. Witches were seen as evil creatures e.g. Banquo says “The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, and these are of them…” This shows that Banquo does not trust the witches and as the general public would think in your time Banquo classes the witches as rare and evil. Most people now do not believe in witchcraft but are still intrested when they read about it in your play. I was intrigued by the witches in the first scene when they started chanting because it grabbed my attention and got the play to a great start.
People are now going to the cinema more than they go to the theatre as the theatre is seen as old fashioned now. However you will be pleased to know that you movie is being broadcasted on TV and cinema too.
As I said before, your play uses something we call timeless themes. People of our time still enjoy reading all your plays. They love the humour of Midsummer Night’s Dream and cannot get enough of the romance of Romeo and Juliet. They enjoy these plays as they have incidents which are still relevant to us know.
Personally I think the reason Macbeth is so popular is because of its successful structure. The structure is simple but very effective. I have realised that you introduced the witches in the first scene to grab the readers’ attention and to keep them interested through the whole play. The witches at the end of the scene say, “Fare is foul and foul is fare, hover through the fog and the filthy air…” I think you put this bit in to confuse the people watching and make them think about what has been said and keeps the audience’s attention through the rest of the play.
Act 3 Scene 5 is the next big scene where the witches get a lot to say. In that scene you have made the witches talk about Macbeth once more. This shows that the witches are intrigued by Macbeth, “…to trade and traffic with Macbeth…” The witches have mixed feelings about what they have done to Macbeth. The witches conversation about Macbeth makes the audience think about what the witches plan on doing next.
I was interested and got into the play most when you created dramatic irony in the play for example when the audience knew Macbeth was plotting to kill Banquo. However he was being very nice to Banquo and Banquo had no idea he was walking into a trap. “Here’s our chief guest” Macbeth said as he talked to Banquo and Lady Macbeth, although he was actually plotting to kill him.
You also added in soliloquies into the structure, mainly Macbeth’s. The soliloquies focused on a fight between Macbeth’s guilt and Macbeths ambition, “Our fears in Banquo stick deep, and in his royalty of nature reigns that which could be feared…” In almost all of the cases Macbeth’s ambition came ahead of the guilt he had.
You had put in some very strange characters but managed to fit them in magnificently well. People in your time must have been amazed to see a woman (Lady Macbeth) committing a crime. However, in the 21st century we have women committing crimes almost as frequently as men. Lady Macbeth in your time was unique as she was a villain. It fascinated people then and even though women committing crimes is not rare it still fascinates us now.
Witches were very popular in your culture, I understand that King James even wrote a book about them called Demonologie! The witches that intrigued people on your time still have an impact on us even thought it is not the main talking point in our culture.
The character of Macbeth is really complicated. His character is what we call a tragic hero. Macbeth was introduced as a brave fighter which really caught the eye of the audience, “Hail, brave friend…” The evil of the witches changed him completely into a criminal. His ambition to be the king was his downfall and that really shocked the audience. Who would have thought that ambition was a bad thing? The ambition came from the witches’ prophecies which portray them as evil once more.
The witches talk in rhyming couplets. The language you used was amazing. You had to describe the surroundings using only speech for example “How goes the night boy…” It worked very well and it shows that you do not need props to describe the surroundings.
I have realised that you have used a lot of imagery in your play as well in the form of similes and metaphors, “like a rat without a tail” It is very effective and adds something new to the plain language in a normal conversation. The Duncan murder scene which you left out was a good decision. I believe that you did not have props to show the murder and also that you thought it would have been disrespectful to the monarchy if you put the scene in. However, people have been making new versions of your play with Duncan’s murder added into it.
A man called Roman Polanski made a version of Macbeth with scenes added into it. In Act 2 Scene 1 Polanki puts in different camera angles to portray what certain characters are doing at the time. The castle is full of stair cases and long corridors. When the dagger appears there is strange music going on in the background suggesting Macbeth is going to do the unnatural by killing Duncan. In the same act he also uses a lot of silence to create tension and suspense. He puts a close up on Lady Macbeth to show that she’s trying to keep out of sight from Banquo and Fleance. Polanski uses a great technique to show who is hiding or not. He puts the characters in dark light to show they are not prepared to show their face.
Polanski adds extra bits in Scene 1 and Scene 2 of Act 2. He added these bits as it would be easier for the viewer to make sense of the whole play. When Macbeth approaches Duncan’s room, you notice white light coming from it which is to show that he is innocent. As Macbeth gets closer to the room the light begins to flicker showing that Duncan is in trouble. Polanski shows Duncan’s murder in a gruesome manner. Duncan’s death is emphasised by his crown falling to the ground, thus showing that the King is no more.
In conclusion as I have mentioned before, your play is very successful. My favourite character is Banquo. I like him as you have portrayed him as an innocent and a noble man. I feel that he is one of the few innocent people all the way through the play because the other characters are changed by evil around them. I loved the moment when Banquo’s ghost came back to haunt Macbeth as it seemed very unnatural. In that moment people at the banquet, including his wife, see Macbeth as cowardly and insane. This was in contrast to the impression people had before when they thought of him as a brave, fearless and noble soldier. Overall the popularity of your play has not died down over the years and your play has been transformed into movies and TV programmes with great success.
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