Book (Play) Review: Macbeth by Shakespeare

This is definitely my favorite book I’ve read for school this year, and my favorite Shakespeare I’ve read (though I only have Romeo and Juliet to compare it to). I loved the psychological aspects of the play, and of course, Shakespeare’s command of the English language is breathtaking.

4.5/5 stars

*There will be spoilers in this review. I’m assuming most people have read it or at least have a familiarity with the plot. If not, go read it, and then come back ūüėČ

cover macbeth

To be honest, most of the “classics” I read for English class leave me with a “meh” opinion of them.¬†Macbeth, however, grabbed me from the beginning and kept me in suspense. I loved the plot, the subtle way that everything builds until Macbeth is full-out insane. Shakespeare’s message of violence-begets-violence comes across powerfully without feeling forced. The plot was focused and fast-paced, throwing the reader through countless horrors in a built up to the climax.

I’m getting better at reading Shakespearean English. I love the way Shakespeare manages to chose seemingly random words and ends up¬†describing things¬†perfectly. I want to be able to do that. It’s incredible and inspiring. (It’s also creeping into my own writing style; I wrote some poetry for school and my sister agreed it had an undeniably Old English feel.)

Lady Macbeth is a fascinating character, bringing up a conversation about gender roles one wouldn’t expect from a work written so long ago. The running question of what it means to be a man pushes my feminist button, but in a good way–this is a play, that if read correctly, could start an important conversation. I honestly can’t decide whether I think Lady Macbeth¬†is flat out evil or kinda badass. She is the driving force of the book, and though it ends up ruining (and ending) her life, I appreciated the way she helped move the plot along.

The witches were highly entertaining. Their scenes were some of the most readable, and I loved the supernatural element they brought into the story. I’m a sucker for a good prophecy, and the way they played Macbeth was amazing.

What really strikes me about this book is how powerfully I felt Macbeth’s mental unraveling. Today, I feel like if this story were to be told (as a novel), it would be in first person, to highlight the insanity creeping into Macbeth’s mind. However, even with the barriers of Elizabethan English and the third person format of a play, I got caught up in Macbeth’s insanity. I actually probably enjoyed the transition from sane to crazy more than I would have if I were trapped in his mind in a first person version (unstable narrators aren’t my favorite thing to read, to be honest).

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