« ElőzőTovább »
calculated to blind his reason, and enflame his ambition, she breaks forth into such a vaunting display of hardened intrepidity, as presents one of the most terrific pictures that was ever imagined
I have given suck, and know
have done to this.
This is a note of horror, screwed to a pitch that bursts the very sinews of nature. She no longer combats with human weapon, but seizing the flash of the lightning, extinguishes her opponent with the stroke. Here the controversy must end, for he must either adopt her spirit, or take her life. He sinks under the attack, and offering nothing in delay of execution but a feeble hesitation, founded in fear--If we should fail,-he concludes with an assumed ferocity, caught from her, and not springing from himself
I am settled, and bend up
The strong and sublime strokes of a master impressed upon this scene make it a model of dramatic composition; and I must in this place remind the reader of the observation I have before hinted at, that no reference whatever is had to the auguries of the witches. It would be injustice to suppose that this was other than a purposed omission by the poet; a weaker genius would have resorted back to these instruments. Shakspeare had used and laid them aside for a time; he had a stronger engine at work, and he could proudly exclaim
We defy auguries. Nature was sufficient for that work; and to show the mastery he had over nature, he took his human agent from the weaker sex.
This having passed in the first act, the murder is perpetrated in the succeeding one. The introductory soliloquy of Macbeth, the chimæra of the dagger, and the signal on the bell, are awful
preludes to the deed. In this dreadful interim Lady Macbeth, the great superintending spirit, enters to support the dreadful work. It is done; and he returns appalled with sounds. He surveys his bloody hands with horror; he starts from her proposal of going back to besmear the guards of Duncan's chamber; and she snatches the reeking daggers from his trembling hands to finish the imperfect work
Infirm of purpose,
She returns on the scene; the deed which he revolted from is performed; and with the same unshaken ferocity she vauntingly displays her bloody trophies, and exclaims
My hands are of your colour, but I shame
Fancied noises, the throbbings of his own quailing heart, had shaken the constancy of Macbeth. Real sounds, the certain signals of approaching visiters, to whom the situation of Duncan must be revealed, do not intimidate her; she is prepared for all trials, and coolly tells him
I hear a knocking
is it then!
The several incidents thrown together' in this scene of the murder of Duncan, are of so striking a sort as to need no elucidation; they are better felt than described, and my attempts point at passages of more obscurity, where the touches are thrown into shade, and the art of the author lies more out of sight.
Lady Macbeth being now retired from the scene, we may, in this interval, permit the genius of Æschylus to introduce a rival murderess on the stage.
Clytemnestra has received her husband Agamemnon, on his return from the capture of Troy, with studied rather than cordial congratulations. He opposes
pompous ceremonies she had devised for the display of his entry, with a magnanimous contempt of such adulation
-Sooth me not with strains
Loud acclamations echoed from the mouths
the gods ;
These are heroic sentiments; but in conclusion the persuasions of the wife overcome the modest scruples of the hero, and he enters his palace in the pomp of triumph ; when soon his dying groans are echoed from the interior scene, and the adultress comes forth, besprinkled with the blood of her husband, to avow the murder
I struck him twice, and twice
• The Observer, No. 56. The character of Clytemnestra," observes a periodical critic, “may be weighed without disparagement against that of Lady Macbeth ; but all the other de. lineations are superior in our Shakspeare: his characters are more various, more marked, more consistent, more natural, more intuitive. The style of Æschylus, if distinguished for a majestic energetic simplicity, greatly preferable to the mixed metaphors and puns of Shakspeare, bas still neither the richness of thought, nor the versatility of diction, which we find displayed in the English tragedy.”—Monthly Review, vol. Ixxxi. p. 120.