The instances words and actions needing clarification in Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth are numerous. Let us in this essay look at some of the more serious instances lacking clear meaning in the play.
Lily B. Campbell in her volume of criticism, Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes: Slaves of Passion,
confesses that critics are at a loss in trying to explain the reference to "Bellona's bridegroom":
Macbeth is, indeed, "Bellona's bridegroom", though critics seem rather at a loss to know just who Bellona's bridegroom may have been. (213)
Blanche Coles states in Shakespeare's Four Giants that there is a common mistake which literary critics of the play make:
Not enough stress has been laid upon Duncan's unaccountably sudden and arbitrary appointment of Malcolm to the royal succession in the very hour of Macbeth's triumph [. . .] . The insult to Macbeth (as it may appear to different minds), cannot be overemphasized. (40)
Coles offers an explanation for this ambiguity in the play:
Perhaps Shakespeare was taking for granted that his audience knew that the historian had said, "Duncan did what in him lay to defraud him [Macbeth] of all manner of titles and claims, which might in time to come pretend to the crown." Malcolm was under age, and this fact made Macbeth first heir to the throne. (40-41)
L.C. Knights in the essay "Macbeth" mentions equivocation, unreality and other possible causes of ambiguity within the play:
The equivocal nature of temptation, the commerce with phantoms consequent upon false choice, the resulting sense of unreality ("nothing is, but what is not"), which has yet such power to "smother" vital function, th...
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...e, NH: Richard R. Smith Publisher, Inc., 1957.
Coursen, H. R. Macbeth: a Guide to the Play. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1997.
Fergusson, Francis. "Macbeth as the Imitation of an Action." Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.
Knights, L.C. "Macbeth." Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.
Mack, Maynard. Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. http://chemicool.com/Shakespeare/macbeth/full.html, no lin.
Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.
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