Thursday, April 24, 2014

Unrequested Critique: Macbeth

When I adapted Macbeth into a novella, Macbeth the Usurper, I frequently found myself swearing at Shakespeare. Damn, that man needed an editor. I should really have written this post a few months back when all these details were fresh in my head. In the meantime,  here's what I remember.

Macbeth seems to genuinely not know that he's the most likely next king, yet gets upset when he won't be the next king.

The sequence works something like this:

  • Macbeth is closely related to The King.
  • Macbeth is the king's best general.
  • Macbeth is a shoe-in for being elected King next.
  • Macbeth is surprised when the witches suggest that he could be king.
  • Macbeth states strongly how he is not seeking the throne.
  • Malcolm, the King's son, is promoted to a higher standing.
  • Macbeth gets upset that there's now someone else in line for the throne ahead of him.

So let me get this straight. Macbeth isn't aware that he's next in the for the throne? Macbeth is surprised that he could be the next king? I doubt those assertions in the strongest term. Macbeth must have known his strong standing to be the next king, because that is why he gets pissed off when The King advances his own son before Macbeth.

Then we have Ross delivering a message to Macbeth that he's been given a new title, and relates the news how the old thane was a traitor. That wouldn't be bad if we hadn't seen Ross in the previous scene speaking to The King, and The King never said anything about a traitor. Ross just magically acquired information by showing up. I presumed that he used osmosis.

Bill, get thee to an editor.

Then we have Lady Macbeth who is so present early in the play, then disappears, only to be axed offs screen. Really? You show some other lady getting offed by Macbeth's soldiers, but you don't even bother with Lady Macbeth? Here death is just a shout-out? I am disappointed.

Then there are the witches, and they don't really do anything in the play at all. Macbeth is well on the road to screwing everything up all on his own. The witches don't really provide any help at all. They tell him that he could be king, which he should have already known, and told him the best place to hole up against an army, which happened to a fortress perfect for holing up against an army. Brilliant, eh?

Then there's the whole Banquo fiasco. Macbeth decides to assassinate Banquo despite the fact that Banquo was his first supporter in overthrowing the current king. Naturally, when one gets a supporter, one murders him quickly, right? Am I right? Politically, it's a good move as he eliminates the only general who might be able to oppose him, but that reasoning is never followed up on. No, he was just paranoid that Banquo might find out that Macbeth had done the very sort of thing that Banquo had urged him to do.

And those are just the problems that I remember. So, if someone out there decides to novelize a Shakespeare novel, then writer beware. I'm stupid enough to do this twice, but if you decide to be that stupid, that's on your own head.