Ian McKellen as Macbeth: “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow . . .”

August 15th offers two significant and uncannily symmetrical Macbeth anniversaries.

On this date in 1040, Macbeth saw his cousin and rival, Duncan 1, killed in battle, making Macbeth King of Scotland.

Seventeen years later to the day, in 1057, Macbeth himself was killed in battle by a force led my Duncan’s eldest son, Malcolm III of Scotland.

Frye on Shakespeare’s Macbeth as one of the “tragedies of order”:

In each of Shakespeare’s three social tragedies, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Hamlet, we have a tragic action based on three main character groups.  First is the order-figure: Julius Caesar in that play; Duncan in Macbeth; Hamlet’s father.  He is killed by a rebel-figure or usurper: Brutus and the other conspirators; Macbeth; Claudius.  Third comes the nemesis-figure or nemesis-group: Antony and Octavius; Malcolm and Macduff; Hamlet.  It is sometimes assumed tht the hero, the character of the title-role, is always at the centre of the play, and that all plays are to be related in the same way as the hero; but each of the heroes of these three tragedies belongs to a different aspect of the total action.  The nemesis-figure is partly a revenger and partly an avenger.  He is primarily obsessed with killing the rebel-figure, but has a secondary function of restoring something of the previous order.  (Fools of Time, 17)

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