One of my very first literary heroine was a little witch who manages to get the better of all the bigger, older witches after having been put down by them -- the heroine of Otfried Preußler's Little Witch. (In fact, I loved that book enough to write my very first fan letter to the author about it ... and I still love it enough to have put it on MR's "1001" list.)
Ever since, I've come to be interested in them because women are almost always maligned as "witches" when people are afraid of them because they -- the women in question -- happen to be better at something (or are merely perceived as being better at something) than others. That's true for the poor ladies of centuries past who just happened to know their herbs a bit better than their neighbors, potentially even better than the local monastery's herbalist, and who, after having helped countless community members with every ailment from headaches to abortion, were duly burned at the stake for their troubles the second they even inadvertently stepped on someone's toes. And it's still true for women who happen to be better at their jobs nowadays than their (mostly, but not necessarily male) colleagues. Other slurs such as plainly denigrate -- "witch" (and to a certain extent also "bitch") implies an irrational element of fear. In light of that, the transformation of witches -- or their perception -- from the worst of evil bogey(wo)men conceivable to a positive identification with the "women's power" movement is a thing to behold; not least in literature.
Which, incidentally, is just one more reason why I love Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens. And along the same lines, who wouldn't love Mr. Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax and her coven?
Though, speaking of Pratchett, he has also created just about the only werewolf I can get behind (and for similar reasons) -- Angua of the Night Watch.
And, well, yeah, in terms of stories that were films before they were books, Ladyhawke of course ... which isn't so much a horror as a "doomed lovers" story, obviously.
Vampires, though? Hmm. I mean, on the one hand, give me Dracula rather than Edward Cullen any day of the week (and I'm saying that as a confirmed non-horror reader). On the other hand, I read Anne Rice's vampire novels -- until she turned BBA, that is -- for just about everything but the horror aspect; in fact, if she'd ramped up that one I'd have been gone in a flash. (Incidentally, Rice once revealed in an interview that Lestat's character was inspired by Rutger Hauer's portrayal of Etienne de Navarre in Ladyhawke. Go figure.)
And zombies? Leave me alone and get the hell out of here. They creep me out so badly I won't even go anywhere near them in a supposedly humorous context (like the "white trash zombie" novels that are currently all the rage).
TITLE: The Tragedy of Macbeth
AUTHOR: William Shakespeare
EDITION: Folger Shakespeare Library Edition
"In 1603, James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne, becoming James I of England. London was alive with an interest in all things Scottish, and Shakespeare turned to Scottish history for material. He found a spectacle of violence and stories of traitors advised by witches and wizards, echoing James’s belief in a connection between treason and witchcraft.
In depicting a man who murders to become king, Macbeth teases us with huge questions. Is Macbeth tempted by fate, or by his or his wife’s ambition? Why does their success turn to ashes?
Like other plays, Macbeth speaks to each generation. Its story was once seen as that of a hero who commits an evil act and pays an enormous price. Recently, it has been applied to nations that overreach themselves and to modern alienation. The line is blurred between Macbeth’s evil and his opponents’ good, and there are new attitudes toward both witchcraft and gender."
It's a bit difficult to review Shakespeare. The man is famous. His works have been taught at school, performed ofter, watched by millions, read and enjoyed by many more. In short, Shakespeare has pervaded modern society.
Macbeth is a fairly simple play. There are few characters to keep track of, the action occurs chronologically, and the plot is uncomplicated. The play also has many memorable characters, especially Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the three witches. The various psychological effects of evil deeds is nicely examined through the Macbeth couple - their disintegration as a married couple, as well as the "evolution" of their personal moral feelings for their actions. This is an entertaining, though dark, drama that makes use of eloquent language to create evocative imagery, and sneaks in questions of human free-will, the role of fate and an analysis of human character.
The Tragedy of Macbeth
by William Shakespeare
[Folger Paperback Edition
Act V is rather fast paced with lots of short scenes and different settings. Lady Macbeth's guilty conscience has caught up with her and she is now sleep walking and talking ["Out, damned spot; out, I say. . . . Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?"]. Macbeth is rather more preoccupied with the English forces lead by Malcolm and Macduff, than he is with his wife's troubles. Macbeth believes himself to be invincible, right until his servant tells him that Birnam Wood has aquired legs. Lady Macbeth decides to solve her problems permanently. Macbeth doesn't seem to care overly much. It seems like the Macbeth marriage couldn't withstand a murder.
There are several battle scenes (no doubt providing the theatre audience with a great deal of swashbuckling entertainment), with Macbeth still convinced that no man can defeat him. However, Macbeth gets rather rattled when Macduff blithely informs him that he was "from his mother's womb untimely ripped". Macbeth comes to a deserved and permanent end, Macduff gets his revenge and Malcolm gets the crown. No mention is made of Fleance. Macbeth has made quite a transformation; from a respected war hero, to murderer, to complete tyrant; from having almost everything, to having nothing.
And so ends the Tragedy of Macbeth, a 400 year old political/psychological drama.
The Tragedy of Macbeth
by William Shakespeare
[Folger Paperback Edition
In Act IV, the witches or weird (wyrd?) sisters make a rather lengthy appearance, with a suitable amount of magic and ambiguious visions. Here we have the famous "none of woman born / shall harm Macbeth" prophecy and the "walking woods" prophecy that implies that Macbeth cannot be defeated until Birnam Wood moves toward Dunsinane Hill. Sorry Shakespeare, but I still prefer J.R.R. Tolkien's version of fulfilling these prophecies. Marching with chopped up branches simply does not compete with Ents, and some semantical finagling does not compare to Eowyn or Merry.
Macbeth is also not amused that Macduff has fled to England and decides to commit more murders, by proxy. Apparently these murders don't seem to bother Macbeth as much as the others - no hallucinations! Charming man this. Prince Malcolm makes a reappearance and decides to invade Scotland with the help of Macduff, who is out for revenge. Silly man should have take his wife and children with him!