Lady Macbeth in Scotland, Pa

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In a world consumed by economics, it is easy to get swept away by the desire for power, wealth, and prestige. Many people lose sight of life’s natural wonders and become engrossed by greed as they yearn to acquire and maintain an affluential reputation. This central theme is apparent in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, which is further translated into Billy Morrissett’s Scotland, PA. Although Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s desire to “achieve absolute monarchical authority is absurdly reduced to the McBeths’ desperate bourgeois ambitions,” in Scotland, PA, the main concept remains intact (Hoefer 154). Essentially, Macbeth is transformed from a tragic play about the uncontrollable desperation for monarchial power kindled by a prophesy to a modern movie about a low class couple who, despite their patient efforts, cannot seem to achieve the success they desire and are therefore driven to violence and thievery to obtain it. Within the play the Macbeth’s commence a bloody trail of deaths with the murder of King Duncan, which initiates a series of events leading to false accusations and the unnecessary deaths of those that were once friends to the Macbeths. Scotland, PA presents this plot in a completely different context while maintaining the general story. The movie begins in much of the same manner with the murder of Norm Duncan. This is followed by immediate glory for Pat and Mac, as they become new owners of the restaurant, although they eventually become paranoid and commit many different acts in an attempt to cover their trail. As the story progresses, one can obviously recognize the undoing of Pat and Joe McBeth. The purpose of this film is to portray Mac and his wife as victims rather than villains, which can be discerned by tracing the evolution of Pat McBeth through the film and comparing her actions and reactions to those of Lady Macbeth.

In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is seen in the beginning as very bold and ambitious. She does not believe that her husband is ruthless enough to complete such an act as murdering the king, and therefore feels that she must be the one to take control over the situation. She conveys this belief when she says to herself, “Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way” (Shakespeare I. v. 16-18). In order to truly take control, she acts as if she is the man in the relationship and goes as far enough to say, “Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty” (Shakespeare I. v. 47-50). She remains fearless all through the comforting of her husband and goes on to say, “A little water clears us of this deed” (Shakespeare II. ii. 86). It is not until after Macbeth’s fits at the banquet that her mind begins to play tricks on her.

This is the point at which Lady Macbeth’s mood is changing. She might not consciously recognize and admit to her guilt, but she expresses her shame subconsciously through dreams. When rubbing her hands excessively in her sleep, Lady Macbeth says, “Out, damned spot, out, I say!” (Shakespeare V. i. 37). Her regrettable behavior is observed only by a gentlewoman and a doctor, yet is very significant in deciphering the transformation of Lady Macbeth’s character. Examples of Lady Macbeth’s destructive behavior are very prominent throughout Acts I and II, until it suddenly becomes apparent that she is feeling so guilty about the murder that she cannot even get a peaceful night’s rest. Changing from a gluttonous villain to a helpless woman haunted by the ghosts of her past, Lady Macbeth certainly has one very important part to contribute. By relating Pat’s transformation to that of Lady Macbeth, a significant evolution in character is established, which can be further related to the overall point of the film. As Marguerite Rippy from The Chronicle of Higher Education states, “…where aspiration and ambition tend to center on quick money and...
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