Posted by madcap on September 1, 2008
The tragedy of a king so blinded by ambition and paranoia that he senselessly (an act of free will) murders those in his path, eventually leading to his own demise. 197 min.
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It is on this question of free will that Chesterton makes a notable contribution to our understanding of Christian tragedy, and it is Macbeth that inspires his comments. He called it the “supreme Christian tragedy,” “the one Christian tragedy,” “the greatest drama in the world” (Collins 69, 83). Although he wrote only two essays on Macbeth (“The Macbeths” and “Realism in Art”) in contrast to his six on Hamlet, it is clear that Macbeth had a very special place in his enthusiastic appreciation of Shakespeare, even though, alas, the book he planned to write on him never got written. In an extended comparison of Shakespeare with Dante, Chesterton mentions Macbeth in particular, his point being that Shakespeare could have dealt with Dante’s hell but not with his heaven. The butchery of the house of Macduff overshadows the cry of the father in the Tower of Hunger. In tragedy Shakespeare had no equal.