The Bear and the Maiden Fair
By Tucker Wodoson
As much as men are capable of horrid, vile things(like Hitler or Stalin); men are often pushed to extremes by or for women(LIKE CALIGULA). The play "Macbeth" by Shakespeare is a great example of this. In the play, Lady Macbeth pushed Macbeth to kill King Duncan of Scotland for power. Lady Macbeth in the play said, “Your hand, your tongue; look like an innocent flower, But be the serpent under’t”(Shakespeare 35). The lady is trying to convince Macbeth to commit regicide for the crown. Macbeth even begins having second thoughts about killing Duncan, “We will proceed no further in this business” (Shakespeare 43) to which Lady M. responds, “What beast was’t then That made you break this enterprise to me?”(Shakespeare 43). She tries manipulating him by guilting him into doing it. She even goes as far to say if she promised to kill her child, she would smash his head on a rock. She’s crazy, but points for commitment. He does end up killing the King due to her manipulation though. Shakespeare wrote, “I have done the deed(of killing the king in his sleep)”(53). Despite his conscience's efforts, it just could not out-talk Lady Macbeth.
The downfall of Macbeth is similar to the downfall of King Stannis Baratheon in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”(adapted from George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series of books). In Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, Macbeth kills the king and just gets worse from there (mostly) because of his wife. In “Game of Thrones”, self proclaimed king Stannis Baratheon(brought to life by English actor, Stephen Dillane) kills his brother(another self proclaimed king) using the dark magic of Melisandre, a priestess of the faith of R'hllor(AKA the Red God). While Macbeth used conventional methods of murder, Stannis did not, throwing leeches full of kingsblood, which is a powerful magical element in the World of Ice and Fire, into a fire, naming 3 fellow players in the game of thrones. The three named all died, King Robb Stark(Fighting for northern independence), King Joffrey Baratheon(Stannis’ incest born, illegitimate nephew), and King Renly Baratheon(Stannis’ gay brother). Robb was betrayed and stabbed at a famous event known as the Red Wedding, Joffrey was poisoned at his wedding(the Purple Wedding), and Renly died because of Melisandre and Stannis’ smoke baby thing that was conceived to kill. Despite all these atrocities, on top of adultery(with Mel), Stannis did one thing that was worse: burning his own daughter at the stake for kingsblood (video below). Yes, he murdered his own daughter, but it wasn’t his idea; the idea came from his favorite priestess’ head. Just like Macbeth, Stannis was lead astray by a woman. Stannis truthfully could not catch a break, first he loses the throne to his illegitimate nephew(season 1 ep 8-10), then he loses a battle to the same person(season 2 ep 9), then he has to burn his daughter(season 5 ep 9). But his worst luck happens at the end all in one episode: his wife hangs herself, Melisandre leaves him, he loses his final battle, and Renly’s kingsguard hunts him down and kills him. Another similarity to Macbeth, he gets a prophecy he won’t die, but he dies anyway. It seems that Shakespeare and George R.R. Martin don’t think too differently.
Game of Thrones 5x09 - Shireen Baratheon Death Scene
Game of Thrones Season 5: Trailer #2 - The Wheel (HBO)
Many examples of Literary Devices are found in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, such as Verbal Irony, Comic Relief, and foreshadowing. A perfect example of comic relief(a funny part used to lighten the mood) was when Banquo was insulting the three witches. Shakespeare wrote Banquo saying, “You should be women, And yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so”(17). Banquo roasted(insulted) the witches by pointing out their granny whiskers, which with no doubt provoked laughter in the early 17th century England. Another example of Lit. Devices in “Macbeth” is when the Porter was talking about murder and hell and whatnot in act 2. The Porter said, “...That...who committed treason...yet could not equivocate heaven”(Shakespeare 61). The Porter speaks of regicide as a crime so heinous, God won’t even allow the perpetrator into heaven, which is an example of verbal irony(it is also foreshadowing, but there’s another quote for that) because Macbeth had killed the King just a scene before. Yet another Lit. Device is foreshadowing, found in act one. One of the three witches told Macbeth, “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter”(Shakespeare 19) and the same witch told Banquo, “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none”(Shakespeare 19). The witch told Banquo and Macbeth of their fortune in the future, which Macbeth became king and then Banquo’s son became king after Macbeth died of a man that fit another prophecy of the witches. Hooray for C-Sections!
Yes, this was partially already used, but George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” BOOK series is connected, yet again, to “Macbeth.” In the fourth book(“A Feast for Crows”), it’s revealed that Cersei Lannister was given a prophecy that she would be queen by a witch named Maggie the Frog. Maggie told her, “You shall be queen, but shall be replaced by one younger and prettier. Your children will die in your lifetime and you will be shamed”(Martin 156). All of Maggie’s prophecies come true. Cersei becomes queen, but becomes only queen regent once Margaery Tyrell marries her (crazy) son, King Joffrey. Joffrey then dies at his wedding feast(known as the purple wedding). Cersei quickly blames her brother, Tyrion(whom didn’t do it, it was actually Margaery's grandmother), and he is arrested. Her daughter, Myrcella, dies in an assassination plot, but her final son is still alive and king(the series still has 2 more books yet to be released). Cersei is arrested for incest and king slaying(her children’s father is actually Cersei’s brother, Jaime and she killed her husband too) by the faith militant, and is walked down the streets naked in shame. 3 of the 4 prophecies are fulfilled, similar to Macbeth. Both Macbeth and Cersei Lannister have had similar prophecies. Cersei is also similar to Lady Macbeth, but that isn’t important.