Macbeth by William Shakespeare
(Simply Shakespeare)

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Synopsis

This tragedy tells of a power-hungry Scottish nobleman and his lady, and the price they pay for violently seizing the royal throne. Books in this new, illustrated series present complete texts of Shakespeare's plays. However, the lines are set up so students can see the bard's original poetic phrases printed side-by-side and line-by-line with a modern "translation" on the facing page. Starting in the late 1580s and for several decades that followed, Shakespeare's plays were popular entertainment for London's theatergoers. His Globe Theatre was the equivalent of a Broadway theater in today's New York. The plays have endured, but over the course of 400+ years, the English language has changed in many ways—which is why today's students often find Shakespeare's idiom difficult to comprehend. Simply Shakespeare offers an excellent solution to their problem. Introducing each play is a general essay covering Shakespeare's life and times. At the beginning of each of the five acts in every play, a two-page spread describes what is about to take place. The story's background is explained, followed by brief descriptions of key people who will appear in the act, details students should watch for as the story unfolds, discussion of the play's historical context, how the play was staged in Shakespeare's day, and explanation of puns and plays on words that occur in characters' dialogues. Identifying icons preceding each of these study points are printed in a second color, then are located again as cross-references in the play's original text. For instance, where words spoken by a person in the play offer insights into his or another character's personality, the "Characters" icon will appear as a cross-reference in both the introductory spread and the play proper. Following each act, a closing spread presents questions and discussion points for use as teachers' aids. Guided by the inspiring format of this fine new series, both teachers and students will come to understand and appreciate the genius of Shakespeare as never before.
 

About William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.
 
Published March 1, 2002 by Barron's Educational Series. 256 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Macbeth

Kirkus Reviews

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In this superb book, Ross (World Leaders, not reviewed) not only makes Macbeth live--he also makes the drama behind the play come alive as well.

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Publishers Weekly

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In a successful blend of fact and fact-based fiction, Ross brings to life Shakespeare's London, going behind the scenes of the Globe Theatre to imagine the Bard's creation of Macbeth.

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Mysterious Reviews

almost certainly large portions of the original manuscript were edited out at some point between when it was first written — probably around 1606 — and first produced five years later.

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The New York Review of Books

(Shakespeare’s witches were played by adult males, since he originally had just two boys to play the women and the boy Fleance—that’s why Banquo refers to their beards.) In place of Shakespeare’s three witches in the early scenes, Verdi needed a whole chorus of them, but he said they should be d...

Oct 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Macbeth (Simply Shakespeare)

HistoryNet

Macbeth was a product of these times, and Aitchison devotes the early pages of his book to placing Macbeth in his historical context–one in which murder, if hardly a noble act–was an almost inevitable consequence of the political system, frequently resorted-to among those of royal blood.

Aug 12 2001 | Read Full Review of Macbeth (Simply Shakespeare)

Project MUSE

Each of the three books contains "Key Productions and Performances," "The Play on Screen," "Critical Assessments," and "Commentary," the last of which makes up close to half of each book's text.

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