Macbeth – reviewed by Liliya Karpynska

Macbeth

by William Shakespeare

Reviewed by Liliya Karpynska (Frankfurt, Germany)

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The list of Macmillan Reader titles includes classic and contemporary authors. As I am interested in English history and literature, I have chosen William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth from Macmillan Shakespeare Readers Series because I wanted to learn more about Elizabethan England. I have decided to take this edition rather than the original play by Shakespeare because I think that a modern reader should be guided through Shakespearean language and style the way the Macmillan Reader does. The Macmillan Reader Macbeth is written as a simplified play script and includes original extracts from Shakespeare’s Macbeth explaining the words that are not any more used in modern English (e.g. ye = you; doth = does; hath = has; thy = your; ere = before, etc).

Shakespeare had the idea for his play Macbeth after the events of 1605, when there was an attempt to kill King James I and all the members of his parliament. William Shakespeare changed the story a bit and added his own ideas to make the play interesting to his audience and to please the King. Thus, knowing that James I was obsessed with witchcraft, Shakespeare included many supernatural elements to his play namely ghosts and witches, which are pretty enjoyable for the modern audience.

The tragedy tells the story of a courageous Scottish general Macbeth whose great ambition is to be a King. One day three witches predict that he will be the King of Scotland. Their prophecy gives Macbeth the idea to kill the King Duncan. His bloody rise to power is encouraged by his wife, Lady Macbeth, who is finally destroyed by her own wickedness. The play shows how the murders are punished and makes it clear how terrible the murder is.

I have bought the reader with CD edition because I like listening to the pronunciation and train my listening skills. The special thing about the CDs is that the tragedy is not simply read but played by actors. On the Macmillan website I found the information that in Macmillan Reader recording, the role of Macbeth is played by a famous English Royal Shakespeare Company actor Michael Maloney and the part of Lady Macbeth is played by Alison Pettitt, who has performed in over two hundred radio plays. Without any doubt, it makes the book not only an exciting reading material but also a wonderful listening experience.

I think that Shakespeare’s Macbeth is still relevant for our times because it shows that it is not right to achieve ambitions at any cost.