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What is the play really about? Is Macbeth the plaything of a "giant malevolence"? In what sense is Macbeth a Christian play? What happens to the Macbeths' marriage? Is life "a tale told by an idiot/Signifying nothing"? How does Shakespeare create an atmosphere of evil? How sympathetic do we feel to Macbeth? Why is the relatively uneducated Macbeth's language so difficult? Is Duncan a saintly king? How good a man is Banquo? How close is the Macbeths' marriage? Is Macduff this play's real hero? What of the play's final scene? Is or isn't Macbeth triumphal? For much of the 20th century Macbeth was seen by critics as a deeply unsettling play but one in which Good finally overcomes Evil. In this concise, entertaining, easy-to-read guide, Graham Bradshaw puts these arguments in perspective. He shows that the play is much more terrifying than traditionalist critics allow, and, drawing on more than 30 years of studying Shakespeare, offers his own incisive view. This book is essential reading for students, or lovers of the stage and literature, who want to understand the fascinating critical arguments which have long raged about Macbeth, and to know what Shakespeare's great tragedy is really about.
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Table of Contents

Introduction; A summary of the plot; What is Macbeth about? How does Shakespeare create an atmosphere of evil? Is Macbeth the plaything of a giant malevolence? How sympathetic do we feel to Macbeth? Why is the relatively uneducated Macbeth's language so difficult? Is Duncan a saintly king? How good a man is Banquo? How close is the Macbeths' marriage? What happens to the marriage? Is Macduff this play's real hero? So what of the play's final scene? Is it or isn't it triumphal? Is life a tale "told by an idiot/Signifying nothing"? A short chronology.

About the Author

Professor Graham Bradshaw is the author of Shakespeare's Scepticism, described by Harold Bloom as "one of the half-dozen or so best modern books about Shakespeare" and numerous other books and essays. A former Professor of English at Chuo University in Tokyo and before that a Reader at the University of St Andrews, he began his career at Cambridge. He is now an Honorary Professor of English and Fine Arts at the University of Queensland.

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