Tag Archives: macbeth

Facts & Figures: Holinshed’s Chronicles

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    You might have heard of Holinshed’s Chronicles in case you studied English Literature. But for those of you who haven’t, let me give you a glimpse of it. Holinshed’s Chronicles otherwise is a detailed subject that has influenced many iconic writers and playwrights.  

    Holinshed’s Chronicles, also known as Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, is a collaborative work published in several volumes and two editions. The first edition was in 1577, and the second in 1587. It was a large, comprehensive description of British History published in three volumes (England, Scotland and Ireland).

    The Chronicles have traditionally been a source of interest and writing influence on many big time writers, because of its extensive links to Shakespeare’s history plays, as well as King Lear, Macbeth, and the lesser known Cymbeline (Cymbeline, is also known as The Tragedy of Cymbeline or Cymbeline, King of Britain) is a play by William Shakespeare set in Ancient Britain and based on the legends that formed part of the Matter of Britain concerning the early Celtic British King Cunobeline) of pre-Roman Britain.

    The Chronicles could have also been a primary source for many other literary writers of the Renaissance period such as Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser and George Daniel. Now let me tell you how these Chronicles came into existence.

    In 1548, Reginald Wolfe, a London printer, conceived the idea of creating a “Universal Cosmography of the whole world (Cosmography is a branch of science that deals with the general features of the universe, including mother earth), and among them certain histories, of every known nation.” He wanted the work to be printed in English and he also wanted maps and illustrations in the book. Wolfe acquired many of John Leland’s works (John Leland was an English poet and antiquary—dealing in rare books), and with these he constructed chronologies and drew maps that were up-to-date. When Wolfe realised he would not be able to complete this project on his own, he hired Raphael Holinshed and William Harrison to assist him.

    Wolfe died with the work still unfinished in 1573, and the project—changed to a work specifically about the British Isles—and was run by a consortium of three members of the London stationers. They retained Holinshed, who employed Harrison, Richard Stanyhurst, Edmund Campion and John Hooker. In 1577, the work was published in two volumes after some censorship by the Privy Council of some of Stanyhurst’s contribution on Ireland.

    The Chronicles narrative is characterised by a set of rhetorical figures and thematic paradigms that establish the national, royal, chivalrous and heroic ideals that define a state, its monarch, its leaders, and the political role of the common people.

Influence on Shakespeare:

    Shakespeare is widely believed to have used the revised second edition of the Chronicles (published in 1587) as the source for most of his history plays, including the plot of Macbeth first performed in 1606, and for portions of King Lear and Cymbeline.

    Several other playwrights, such as Christopher Marlowe, also used the Chronicles as a source.

The Chronicles and Macbeth:

    Shakespeare used Holinshed’s work extensively in Macbeth, but in modified form. An instance is the Three Witches, whom Holinshed describes as “creatures of the elderwood … nymphs or fairies”. Nymphs and fairies are generally viewed as beautiful and youthful, but Shakespeare’s three witches in Macbeth are ugly, dark, and bizarre. It is believed that he made the change to heighten the suspense and darkness of the play. However, the Chronicles lacked any descriptions of Macbeth’s character, and therefore Shakespeare improvised on several points. The characters Banquo and Fleance in Macbeth were also taken from Holinshed’s works, but they are now considered to be inventions of the 16th century.

    The primary difference between the Chronicles and Shakespeare is characterisation. The character of Macbeth is primarily depicted as a good ruler, a king who was fair and just for 17 years. The Shakespeare’s plot displays King Duncan as a minor character and a weak king. It is possible that the reading of Shakespeare’s King Duncan was inspired by the tale of King Duffe contained within the Chronicle. The story follows a similar narrative, where, King Duffe and his murderer Donwald, closely mirror the narrative of King Duncan and Macbeth. The bad omens following the murder of Duffe are similarly mirrored in Shakespeare’s narrative.

Synopsis:

The Chronicles tale of Macbeth differs from Shakespeare’s version in numerous ways. The play features a scene in which Banquo and Macbeth encounter three women and each speak of a prophecy that would contribute to the characterisation of these women as, ‘other worldly’. 

    In the Chronicles version, Macbeth is a much more sympathetic character. King Duncan is depicted as a weak ruler who had violated the Scottish laws of succession by failing to consult with the “Thanes”, or Lords, before naming his son.

    In Holinshed’s Chronicles, Banquo is shown as a scheming character—he is an accomplice in Macbeth’s murder of Duncan. In comparison to Shakespeare’s version, which has Duncan murdered in his sleep, Duncan is slain in battle and his death is not highly detailed.

    In the Chronicles, Macbeth ruled Scotland not briefly, but for 10 years. He was apparently a capable and wise monarch who implemented commendable laws. Fearing that Banquo will seize the kingdom, Macbeth invites him for a supper where he intends to kill Banquo and his son. He succeeds in killing Banquo but his son, Fleance, flees to Wales. Macbeth, convinced by the witches of his invincibility, commits outrageous acts against his subjects becoming a cruel and paranoid ruler.

   The tale ends when Macbeth is slain by Macduff who then brings his head to the son of the original King, Malcolm.

   The Chronicles and King Lear:

    It is believed that Shakespeare would have used the revised second edition of the Chronicles which was published in 1587. Shakespeare’s King Lear loosely follows the story detailed in the Chronicles but it is unlikely that the Chronicles acted as a primary source.

    Holinshed’s chronicles proves a point that even for a world acclaimed writer ideas can come from anywhere including history and mythology.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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Book review: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    The complete title of the play is, ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ written by one and only one, William Shakespeare. The play is thought to have been first performed in 1606. It dramatizes the political ambition of those who seek power for their own sake. Of all the plays that Shakespeare wrote during the reign of James I, who was the patron of Shakespeare’s acting company, Macbeth, most clearly, reflects, the playwright’s relationship with his sovereign. It was first published in the Folio of 1623, possibly from a prompt book, and is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy. Some famous quotes of Macbeth are …

    ‘Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble—this is a rhyming couplet in the play chanted by the supernatural three witches. The witches represent pure evil. They are not real characters, and, indeed, they can be seen simply as the voice of temptation in the mind of Macbeth.

    Another quote that I liked was, ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair.’ 

    Vishal Bhardwaj’s movie, Maqbool is an adaptation of the play Macbeth. The master quote of the play is, ‘by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes’ rhymed by the second witch in the play.

    Macbeth has a sinister plot. A brave Scottish General named Macbeth receives a prophecy from a witch-trio that one day he will become the King of Scotland. Driven by ambition, and spurred to action, by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and occupies the Scottish throne. He is then wracked with guilt and paranoia. Forced to commit more and more murders to protect himself from enmity and suspicion, he soon becomes a tyrannical ruler. The bloodbath and consequent civil war swiftly take Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into the realms of madness and death.

    Shakespeare’s source for the story is the account of Macbeth, King of Scotland, Macduff, and Duncan in Holinshed’s Chronicles (1587), a history of England, Scotland, and Ireland familiar to Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Although, the events in the play differ extensively from the history of the real Macbeth. The events of the tragedy are usually associated with the execution of Henry Garnet for complicity in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

    In the backstage world of theatre, some believe that the play is cursed, and generally they don’t mention, its title aloud, referring to it instead as, “The Scottish Play”. Over the course of many centuries, the play has attracted some of the most renowned actors to the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. It has been adapted to film, television, opera, novels, comics, and other media.

    Three witches tell the Scottish general Macbeth that he will one day be King of Scotland. Prompted by his wife, Macbeth kills the king, becomes the new king, and kills more people out of paranoia. Civil war erupts to overthrow Macbeth, resulting in more deaths.

    On a bleak Scottish moorland, Macbeth and Banquo, two of King Duncan’s generals, discover three strange women (witches). The witches prophesy that Macbeth will be promoted twice. Once to the Thane of Cawdor (a rank of the aristocracy bestowed by grateful kings) and second as the King of Scotland. But the caution is, only Banquo’s descendants, will be further kings, and where Banquo isn’t promised any kingdom himself. The generals want to hear more, but the “weird sisters” the witches suddenly disappear. 

    Soon afterwards, King Duncan names Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor as a reward for his success in the recent battles. The promotion seems to support the prophecy. The King then proposes to make a brief visit that night to Macbeth’s castle at Inverness. Lady Macbeth receives news from her husband about the prophecy and his new title. She vows to help him become king by whatever means necessary. 

    Macbeth returns to his castle, followed almost immediately, by King Duncan. The Macbeths plot together, to kill Duncan and wait until everyone is asleep. At the appointed time, Lady Macbeth gives the guards, drugged wine, so that Macbeth can enter and kill the King. But he regrets the act almost immediately, but his wife reassures him. She leaves the bloody daggers by the side of the dead king, just before Macduff, a nobleman, arrives. When Macduff discovers the murder, Macbeth kills the drunken guards in a show of rage and retribution. Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, flee, fearing for their own lives; but they are, nevertheless, blamed for the murder. 

    Macbeth becomes the King of Scotland but is plagued by feelings of insecurity. He remembers the prophecy that Banquo’s descendants will inherit the throne and arranges for Banquo and his son Fleance to be killed. In the darkness, Banquo is murdered, but his son escapes the assassins. At his state banquet that night, Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo and worries the courtiers with his mad response. Lady Macbeth dismisses the court and unsuccessfully tries to calm her husband.

    The witches still prophesy that the Scottish succession will still come from Banquo’s son. Macbeth embarks on a reign of terror, slaughtering many, including Macduff’s family. Macduff goes to seek Malcolm (one of Duncan’s sons who had fled) at the court of the English King. Malcolm is young and unsure of himself, but Macduff, pained with grief, persuades him to lead an army against Macbeth. 

    Macbeth looks out for the witches who say that he will be safe until the local wood, by the name of Birnam Wood, marches into the battle against him. Finally the wood of Birnam from Perthshire, Scotland comes to Dunsinane, Macbeth’s castle.

    Macbeth feels safe in his remote castle at Dunsinane until he is told that now Birnam Wood is moving towards him. Malcolm’s army is carrying branches from the forest as camouflage for their assault on Macbeth’s stronghold. Meanwhile, an overwrought, and conscience-ridden, Lady Macbeth, walks in her sleep and tells her secrets to her doctor. She then commits suicide. As the final battle commences, Macbeth hears of Lady Macbeth’s suicide and mourns.

    In the battle, Macbeth hews violently, but the English forces gradually, overwhelm his army and castle. On the battlefield, Macbeth encounters the vengeful Macduff, who declares that he was not “of woman born” but was instead “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb (what we now call birth by caesarean section). Though he realizes that he is doomed, Macbeth continues to fight until Macduff kills and beheads him. Malcolm, now the King of Scotland, declares his benevolent intentions for the country and invites all to see him crowned at Scone in Scotland.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

   

By the pricking of my thumbs–Agatha Christie

Copyright@shravancharitymission

KHIDKI (WINDOW)

AGATHA CHRISTIE—By the pricking of my thumbs (Makes an interesting read)

One and only one—Agatha Christie.

Like a sinusoidal wave the excitement of her plot never wanes, and therefore her pen, never gets stale. Her works are now nearing a century. But, one still gets a feel. As if the crime was committed, only yesterday, and that too, in my own neighbourhood. The churning thrill of which, grips you tight. Both while you’re reading and even when you’ve kept the book aside. As the crime scene continues to remain in your psyche.

Sunday Express describes the novel as. ‘The most macabre and eerie Christie I have read for a long time.’

Title is halfway a Macbeth quote—‘By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.’

It all happens when:

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford are an ordinary British couple. Their conversation with each other in the novel. Reminds you of those, eloquent British natives who are full of etiquette and punctuated verbose. Tommy is the husband and Tuppence is the wife. They happen to call on Tommy’s aunt Ada in a retirement home called the Sunny Ridge. Aunt Ada by nature is difficult. Therefore, a complex person. In the retirement home while Tommy is busy talking to his aunt. Tuppence enters into a conversation with a resident, Mrs Lancaster. When Mrs Lancaster unexpectedly says, ‘Was it your poor child? There behind the fireplace.’

A few weeks later Aunt Ada dies of natural causes in Sunny Ridge. When, Tommy and Tuppence return to the retirement home after the funeral to make arrangements for Ada’s possessions. They find that Mrs Lancaster has suddenly vanished. The matron there informs them that a relative called Mrs Johnson took her away. Tuppence suspects there’s more to it than meets the eye and tries to find the relative. But the trail hits a cul-de-sac. One of the items that Aunt Ada had left is a painting of a house by the riverside. The picture strongly reminds Tuppence of a house she once saw and took to immediate liking. The painting was supposedly given to Aunt Ada by Mrs Lancaster.

Tommy is away for a few days. So, Tuppence starts looking for the mystery house on her own. Eventually, she finds it in a small village by the name Sutton Chancellor. It turns out that the house is divided in a peculiar way. Front and back. The backside is rented to a middle-aged couple called the Perries. The front part has been vacant for several years now. Tuppence meets with the people of Sutton Chancellor. There is an elderly vicar, a talkative big and beautiful landlady called Mrs. Copleigh, and a Miss Bligh who seem to run the parish.

Under the pretence of house hunting she tries to get more information about the house. Mrs Copleigh tells her a grim story about a spate of child killings some years ago. Then she fails to return home on the arranged day, having been concussed by a blow on the head.

Tommy and his man Friday Albert are now worried about Tuppence. Tommy does some investigation on his own. First, he discovers the painting was by an artist called Boscowan. Who died several years ago. Next Tommy meets the doctor of Sunny Ridge. There have been some deaths that the doctor finds odd and he is worried about a possible foul play. Tommy then talks to an investigator friend, Ivor Smith. Who hints the house in Sutton Chancellor might have been used as a safe house for a criminal gang. Tommy shows the painting to Mrs Boscowan, who notes that someone has added a boat to the picture. At home, Tommy learns that Tuppence is in a hospital near Sutton Chancellor with severe concussion. Tommy and Albert then find a hidden letter from Aunt Ada. In which she suspects there is malice in Sunny Ridge.

Tuppence has recovered. An old doll that she found in the mysterious house turns out to contain uncut diamonds. A party is arranged in Sutton Chancellor. Sir Phillip Starke, the local landowner, and Mrs Boscowan are invited. Tuppence has the impression that Sir Phillip knows more about the whole affair. The next day Tuppence goes to the vicarage and confronts Miss Bligh, who she suspects was the one who hit her on the head.

Alone, Tuppence goes to the mystery house. Where, to her surprise she finds the missing Mrs Lancaster. She takes Tuppence to a secret part of the house and proceeds to tell her life story. After her child was aborted against her will she became deranged and started killing children. One of the other residents in Sunny Ridge had recognized her. So she had to be silenced. Miss Bligh, posing as a relative, resettled her into a new home. After her candour, Mrs Lancaster attempts to kill Tuppence.

Tuppence is saved just in time. It is revealed that Mrs Lancaster is actually the wife of Sir Philip Starke. He had covered up her insanity and the crimes she committed. He assisted in the cover-up by Miss Bligh, his former secretary and confidante. Tommy and Tuppence then return home.

*****

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

Story of an Indian salesman who is lowly qualified but fights his ways through uncertainities to reach the top. A good read for all salesmen. Now available in Amazon.com

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

*****