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Shakespeare: Macbeth

  • About this Course
  • About this Lecturer

About this Course

This course focuses on Macbeth, looking in particular at several key aspects of the play. In the first module, we focus on the appeal of the play, both when it was first peformed in the early 17th century, and for contemporary audiences. In the second module, we explore the theme of the supernatural in Macbeth, looking at King James' fascination with witches, the character of the witches in the play, and the role of fate and free-will. After that, we look at the role of women in the play, focusing in particular on their position in the patriarchal societies of 11th-Century Scotland and Jacobean England, and thinking about the extent to which the major female characters of the play fit into the patriarchal mould. In the fourth module, we consider the theme of kingship, looking at how Shakespeare adapted his sources to make Macbeth look less legitimate as a ruler, before turning in the final module to thinking about the play in performance, thinking in particular about the various different ways that one might present the play in production.

About the Lecturer

Stephen Siddall was Head of English at The Leys School in Cambridge for 31 years and has taught Shakespeare courses for university students and for the University of Cambridge International Summer School in Shakespeare. Between 1988 and 2005 he directed 15 Renaissance classic plays for The Arts Theatre, Cambridge and, more recently A Doll's House and Waiting for Godot for the Horseshoe Theatre Company. He has also directed for BBC television and for the (open air) Pendley Shakespeare Festival. For Cambridge University Press he has written a student guide for Macbeth (2002), Shakespeare on Stage (2008) and Landscape and Literature (2009)