Macbeth: 'the Frame Of Things Disjoint' Or Deconstruction Enacted

1425 words - 6 pages

Trying to define 'deconstruction' is rather like being asked to weigh air -it is, to say the least.a nebulous concept to grasp. However, considering deconstruction in relation to Macbeth may give the theory some substance and may help to open up angles on the play that would not otherwise be considered.The words 'fair is foul and foul is fair' (1.1.10) shake our whole universe of meaning. If either can signify the other, where do we look to for stability, or is there no such thing as stability in the world of Macbeth? A world where everything is clearly and correctly labelled is a safe and comforting place. A world where labels can be erased is threatening to contemplate. The crisis at the ...view middle of the document...

3.123-124) is the usual black/white, good/bad view which Macbethimmediately decentres, introducing disorder where Banquo has seen order with 'This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good' (1.3.129-130). The traditional 'lit. crit.' description of this being the 'sickening see-saw' of Macbeth's mind perpetuates the idea of oppositions, suggesting that Macbeth is vacillating between good and evil, a view which does not allow for the possibility of something of each being present. Macbeth's ability to recognize that the significance of something is in fact undecideable is partly what makes his character so disturbing and yet so fascinating.Trying to see the play from a deconstructionist angle (if there is such a thing, since it must by definition defy description) makes us realize that to see Macbeth as an out and out 'baddie' is too simplistic a view. Macbeth fights against the 'undecideable' as the play progresses. When the witches insist that they do 'a deed without a name' (4.1.64) Macbeth insists that he must know it at any cost - 'even till destruction sicken' ( 4.1.76) .The answers that the witches then give him are enigmatic and lead him to false conclusions, proving that to try to 'name' the 'deed' will only result in inaccuracy, since the 'undecideable' cannot be pinned down. In the final act of the play it seems as if Macbeth has found that he cannot live with 'indecision' and he tries to become a man of action. In a few lines at the end of5.3, Macbeth uses an astonishing number of imperatives- 'send', 'skirr', 'hang', 'give', 'cure', 'pluck', 'raze', 'cleanse' (5.3.37-46) as if fina11y trying to ground himself in a world of fixed meaning but the moment is brief. The death of Lady Macbeth precipitates his full recognition of emptiness and futility. To conclude that everything signifies nothing is to partake of a profoundly nihilistic vision. Macbeth asks the age-old questions about the meaning of life and realizes that there are no answers since anything that can be expressed is not the answer.The questions about the authorship of some parts of the play mean that the accepted view of Macbeth as being 'by William Shakespeare' has been shaken and replaced by an 'undecideable', the truth of which will probably never be known. The Complete Oxford Edition lists~>acbet,l: as being 'by William Shakespeare (adapted by Thomas Middleton)' and it is now generally thoughtthat the scenes featuring Hectate were probably penned by Middleton, but the exact extent of Middleton's involvement with the play will remain a ground of 'undecidability' among scholars. Shakespeare's intention in writing the play is an 'undecideable' which will never be known. The play has been seen as courting the favor...

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