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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

A Love Letter to Macbeth

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

Over the years, I’ve talked about a decent amount of books. I’ve talked about literature I love, books I hate, and every emotion and feeling in-between. But speaking of discussing texts I love, I feel I haven’t done that enough with one genre. And no, I’m not talking about the romance genre. At this point, everyone should know it’s my least favorite genre. Plus, I wrote three posts in a row about it during December. I’m not going to talk about romance until February when I’m lowkey required to talk about it. Today I want to talk about some classic literature that I love, because I feel that I shit on classic lit more than I praise it. And if you read the title you know exactly what I’m going to talk about.

Book cover of Macbeth by Willian Shakespeare.
I'm talkin Macbeth, baby!

Macbeth is the best goddamn play I’ve ever read. I shit on Shakespeare a lot. Like, I feel if I met his ghost, he would be a pretentious prick. And I’m not sorry for saying that. Take a moment to be angry with me, take a deep breath, and then come back.

Deep breath.

Listen, I just feel like he would know that his plays, which I need to remind you are mainly dick jokes, are being taught in schools all around the world, and he would think he’s the GOAT. But he did do one thing right. I don’t care what people say, Hamlet is not Shakespeare’s masterpiece. Hamlet is nothing in my eyes. Macbeth is the only Shakespeare play that matters.

Look no further than the characters. They are some of the best characters ever! Why? Because they’re all grey characters. What I mean by that is no one in this drama is solely good or evil; give or take one character. Take the titular character for example. Macbeth begins the play as King Duncan’s new favorite person ever because Macbeth won a war for him. Everything is going great for Macbeth because he’s been given land, a title, and money. He doesn’t have a care in the world in the beginning. Enter the three witches; the greyest of all the characters if you ask me.

Witchcraft scene from The Craft.
Honestly, this scene from The Craft has the same energy as the witches in Macbeth.

If you know the synopsis of Macbeth, then you know that these three give Macbeth quite the prophecy. Seriously, if Macbeth hadn’t met them and heard them say he would one day be king, then he one hundred percent wouldn’t have killed Duncan; he was totally fine with the life he was leading. Also worth mentioning is that killing the king is not a decision Macbeth makes lightly. After he meets the witches and hears what they have to say, he’s never like, “I want to be king. Duncan needs to die right now.” He grapples with the idea for quite some time and only goes through with it because of his wife.

Let’s talk Lady Macbeth now. She is an icon! Only because she is a major dream role of mine even though I certainly don’t have the ability to perform the part. Anyway, this woman is lowkey a mess. A power-hungry mess. Out of every character in Macbeth, she is the only one I would classify as evil. But even then, there is so much nuance to her. She’s manipulative, plays the part of dutiful wife so well, is vastly intelligent, ambitious as hell, strong-willed, and ruthless. Maybe “evil” isn’t the right word to describe her, but I can’t exactly call her a grey character.

I mean…I guess I could say she’s one of the fifty shades of grey.

Fabulously dressed woman strutting out of a room.
I'll leave.

I’m sorry, that was a bad joke. Let’s go back to Lady Macbeth. Girl gets what she wants, and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. We love a hardworking, conniving Queen! As much as I hate to admit it, Shakespeare did create some pretty great female leads. And for the record, I hated having to type that. I don’t want to give Shakespeare credit; I called him a pretentious prick for crying out loud!

Animated William Shakespeare.
I really struggle with giving this man some of the credit he deserves.

Enough Shakespeare hate. This is supposed to be a positive post and not a roast. We’re here today to talk about the greatest drama of all time. Back to Macbeth now.

Let’s circle back to the three witches. They’re my favorite characters next to Lady Macbeth, and as I said earlier, they are the greyest characters in the whole play. They just tell people straight facts, and let others do as they please with the information. They are here to cause chaos and I love them for it. I also love them because there are so many questions marks around them. Are they real? Do they actually exist? Are they figments of Macbeth’s imagination/inner conscious?

Dog with question marks above its head.
I just have so many questions.

Also, could Macbeth’s first prophecy have come true without all the violence and bloodshed? That is my favorite “what if” in all of literature. All the witches call him is “Thane of Glamis” then “Thane of Cawdor” and finally “king hereafter.” The three don’t tell him much, it’s extremely open ended, and doesn’t have meaning until Macbeth learns of his new title: Thane of Cawdor. Perhaps King Duncan wasn’t destined to live much longer naturally, and maybe Macbeth would be named king instead of one of Duncan’s sons. Or perhaps Duncan’s heir was in another country when Duncan died and Macbeth ruled in the heir’s steed until he returned.

Maybe one day I’ll do a whole post on this “what if” topic because I have so many thoughts on it. Also, let me know in the comments or on Twitter if you’ve ever thought about this too. It’s an interesting topic and I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think could happen. Make sure to tag me @RHRMLBlog.

I’ve realized at this point of the post I haven’t even talked about anything that happens outside of acts one and two. This piece just keeps on giving though. The plot is bananas!

Bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Seriously, Macbeth has it all. There are fake claims, battles, and plots to sit on the throne, a lot of murder, interesting military strategies, ghosts that may or may not actually be there, and slipping sanity. What more could anyone want?! There is not a calm moment in this drama. There is action on every page. Someone is always plotting something. Everything included in this play is deliberate and no detail is left unwritten. Thanks, Willy Shakes!

Animated William Shakespeare.
Today, you get some credit from me, Willy Shakes.

I don’t know what else to say about Macbeth at this point. I just…I just love it so much. In all honesty, I was pulled in with the supernatural elements and murder plot, but I was fully won over when shit hit the fan. If Lady Macbeth’s plot didn’t work, and all the insanity never ensued, I don’t think I would enjoy this drama as much as I do. Macbeth is simply filled with elements that are my cup of tea, and it was destined to become one of my favorite pieces of classic literature.

On that note, I must bid you all adieu. I shall see you next week. Until then, stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all next week, bye!

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