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Defying The Curse Of Macbeth Essay

1556 words - 7 pages

Theatre has always been riddled with superstitions and curses throughout history. Be it the last lantern lit to ward off ghosts, to saying “break a leg”, to prohibiting whistling in the theatre. ( ) However one of the most popular superstitions is about Shakespeare’s Macbeth. This superstition states, that if the name “Macbeth” is spoken outside the lines of the play, disaster will strike the theatre. Performers, stagehands, producers and essentially all who interact with the play can bypass this “Scottish Curse” by referring to the play as “the Scottish play.” Macbeth is full of violence, disorder and blood, it's got ghoulish ghosts, manipulation, deceit, assassination, and witchcraft and provides bountiful ground for dark musings. This “Curse” has run rampant throughout the ages. The cause of this is most likely its mild hazing aspect. Veteran actors spin a tale of woe and tragedy that they witnessed due to someone invoking the curse, lending credibility to the “Curse” Then when accidents occur around Macbeth, those that believe in the superstition mention and mutter about the “Curse”. Thus the “Curse of Macbeth” has grown into one of the most infamous theatre superstitions because of the many legends behind its origin, the numerous rituals to “cleanse” the evil the “Curse” invokes, and the multiple tragic accidents and events the “Curse” supposedly caused.
There are multiple legends and theories on the origin of the “Scottish Curse”. Some of the biggest legends are based on witchcraft. One idea is that the spell the Witches Three cast “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble” in Act IV, Scene 1 (), is actually a real magical spell. Another idea is that the cauldron used in the first performance of Macbeth, was stolen from a witches coven, and thus they cursed the play for the theft. () Then there is the idea that Hecate, the Greek goddess of magic cursed the play, because her role in the play is often cut from productions and performances. () However, the greatest witchcraft legend is that Shakespeare, himself cast the curse on Macbeth, so that no one but himself could successfully and safely present the play.() There are other legends theories that give more “credibility” to the idea that Shakespeare “cursed” his own play. One is the idea that because James I didn’t enjoy the play, Shakespeare was very disappointed and would only refer to the play as "that Scottish play" for the rest of his life.( ) Moving away from magical legends and into more technical ideas, the next idea is that Macbeth is an popular show and it fills theaters. It’s a very common fallback play if a theater can perform its scheduled play. Macbeth is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, and is cheaper to produce and perform. It requires a smaller cast and easier to memorize. A plausible theory suggests that when finances get tight, companies could bring together a production of Macbeth in a short amount of time. Of course, the idea that safety would be...

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