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Lady Macbeth, On Screen and Paper

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Shakespeare’s play of tragedy, Macbeth (1606), is well represented in the film Macbeth (1978) produced and directed by Charles Warren starring Michael Jayson as Macbeth, Barbara Leigh Hunt as Lady Macbeth, Gary Watson as Macduff, David Weston as Malcolm, Brian Badcoe as Lennox, and Tim Hardy as Ross. This film accurately lines up with the play except for a few minor details: the beginning of scene two, act one is left out, parts of actor’s monologues were left out, and scene five, act three is cut out. In fact, the third murderer and Hecate’s characters are not present in the movie at all. Overall, these changes did not seem to affect the play and its main idea. The reason for taking out the lines here and there, and removing characters, might have been for convenience, budget issues, or to shorten the film without removing any significant parts.

In his writing, Shakespeare unveils a hysterical, power-hungry, lustful Lady Macbeth, constant until the end; while in the film adaptation of the play, this image gradually peels away and disappears by act three to reveal a woman bound by the chains of her past who is acting out only in love. Barbara Leigh Hunt plays the role of Lady Macbeth and she does a fine job, reciting her monologues with desperate passion and sincerity. Upon first reading the play, Lady Macbeth appears to be nothing but evil, but as is displayed throughout the movie by Barbara, she is simply “a victim of a pathological mental dissociation…due to the emotional shocks of her past experiences” (Coriat). This streak of hysteria begins with an underlying passion to see a son inherit the throne after Macbeth, since “the witches hail Macbeth as a father to a line of Kings” (Coriat). Lady Macbeth is cursed with this chil...

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...own idea of the play’s theme.

Works Cited

Coriat, Isador H. "The Hysteria of Lady Macbeth." The Hysteria of Lady Macbeth. Moffat, Yard and Company, 1912. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Laurie Lanzen Harris and Mark W. Scott. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale Research, 1986. Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 Nov. 2011.

Gerwig, George William. "Lady Macbeth." Shakespeare's Ideals of Womanhood. East Aurora, N.Y.: The Roycroft Shops, 1929. 133-150. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Lynn M. Zott. Vol. 69. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 Nov. 2011.

Maginn, William. "Lady Macbeth." The Shakespeare Papers of the Late William Maginn, LL.D. Ed. Shelton Mackenzie. Redfield, 1856. 171-208. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Laurie Lanzen Harris and Mark W. Scott. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale Research, 1986. Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 Nov. 2011.
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