In this essay we will compare the RSC stage version of Macbeth with the film version by Polanski. We shall look especially at the characterisation of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the witches; Stagecraft of the setting, the dagger, darkness and light, and the devices of death on stage and soliloquies.
Shakespeare often found his ideas for his plays in historical sources. He did not follow his sources closely; however, he took the most important parts, and sometimes added new material to make his plays exciting on the stage. One major change is that the play takes place during a period of a few months, whereas Macbeth ruled Scotland for 17 years; another thing is that in reality Macbeth was a good king and Duncan was weak, but in the play Macbeth is a tyrant and Duncan is highly respected.
The representations of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and the witches are different between the film and the play. We can see that in the film, Lady Macbeth is beautiful, avaricious, and also seems to be cold. However, in the play Lady Macbeth is very sexually provocative to the audience. It is very clear that Lady Macbeth uses her sex to manipulate Macbeth, so that we feel the full force of her of her taunts of “If thou were a man”. Macbeth is heroic at the beginning and has a stronger sense of his guilt than we get from the play. In the play, Macbeth is called “brave Macbeth”. In the film, the witches are old women. In the play we are told that they have a beard as Banquo says in act two scene one, “What are you?...Your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so”. This is telling us that they have a definite gender in the film. In the play, they are deliberately sexless, which makes the link stronger between Lady Macbeth and the witches when she asks the spirits to “unsex” her, which has a much bigger effect on the audience.
Comparing the stagecraft between the film and the play is very interesting. In the play, when Macbeth says in act two scene one “Is this a dagger which...
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