Macbeth Lives Again by Mary N. Gallman, 1952
Gallman highlights the theme of Fortune, fate and free will in the play. According to the ancient perception, an individual would rise to the top position enjoy the benefits for sometime before the fortune is swung to another person. Unlike fortune, fate is fixed, since it was believed that external forces determined the length and result of a person’s life. According to Gallman, the witches represent the external forces as they determined the kingship of Macbeth and the form of his death. In the Christian world, Macbeth has freewill to live, exercised in the play when he is told to be King but is not directed on how to gain the kingship. It was his destiny to become the king. However, Macbeth is blamed for taking people’s lives for the sake of his destiny.
The theme of gender roles is much focused by Gallman in the play. In Gallman (Act I, Scene 5, 370), Lady Macbeth impels her husband to commit Duncan’s murder, indicating masculine characteristics. Gender in the play is out of the normal order as presented by Lady Macbeth. She domineers in her marriage, rules and dictates her husband all through. Macbeth likewise is much dependent on his wife for support in most of the major activities. At the end in Act IV, when Macbeths hears that his wife has committed suicide, he is too demoralized, hopefully fight and conquers.
Gallman highlights the theme of kingship and natural order in Macbeth. During the period, society highly emphasized honor and loyalty to power. The king was therefore, God’s representative on earth. His subjects became loyal to the king whose words were deemed absolute. Loyalty defined other relationships such as companionship in warfare and hospitality to guests. These relationship ties are however broken in the play as Lady Macbeth domineers over her husband. Macbeth’s acts are majorly treacherous and destroy all form of family unions. Hence, the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is against the natural order. This is demonstrated after he meets the three witches, referred to as, “Instruments of darkness” (Gallman, Act I, Scene 4, Line 124). Banquo when he initially sees these creatures becomes frightened and refuses to heed to their desires. In the medieval and renaissance period, the relationship between the earth and the universe was of great significance. In the play, when Macbeth and the wife committed treacherous acts, the universe was presented to rebel by setting up darkness at noon, tempests and earthquakes.
Among the highlighted themes in Macbeth is the statement of the witches in Gallman (Act I, Scene 1, line 10), “Fair is foul and foul is fair.” This accurately describes Macbeth’s status in the play. From the evil witches, Macbeth decides to converse with them while Banquo becomes frightened by their presence. Macbeth considers the witches fair when in reality their scheme is foul. This is further depicted by King Duncan in Gallman (Act I, Scene 4, lines 11-12), “There’s no art/ to find the mind’s construction in the face.” Even though Macbeth resembled amicable and devoted host, he was secretly conspiring to kill the king. As a woman, Lady Macbeth was expected to be submissive to the husband and play the friendly host with more grace. As a wife of a royalty, she ought to be a symbol of femininity and modesty. However, she is best described as “fiendlike queen” (Gallman, Act 5, Scene 6, line 69). Lady Macbeth exhibits bitter and calculating mentality, which was a reality in most women in the medieval and renaissance period. Shakespeare therefore skillfully introduces evil character in the model woman in the play to highlight secretive female activities in the society.
Gallman, N. Mary. Macbeth Lives Again: The English Journal. JSTOR: Louisiana Tech
University. 1952. 41(7): 370-371