On Tuesday we talked more about these “lenses” or “filters” with which we can study literature. We’ve already used a Freudian/Psychoanalytical lens to study the minds of Macbeth and his wife, and today we talked about New Historicism, which “reopened the interpretation of literature to the social, political, and historical milieu that produced it…New Historicists look at literature alongside other cultural products of a particular historical period to illustrate how concepts, attitudes, and ideologies operated across a broader cultural spectrum.” In other words, as we wrote in our notes, if we read a text with a new historicist lens then we would have to take into account the context of when it was written and the biography of who wrote it.
To look at Macbeth like a New Historicist, we studied the history of the real Macbeth from the 1000s and the political climate when Shakespeare wrote the play for King James in the early 1600s. For those of you who missed class Tuesday, these are the texts we looked at: Macbeth real life carousel.
On Friday we learned about King James’ history as king of Scotland and England — he’s the guy who Shakespeare wrote “Macbeth” for.
For Monday, in the comments below explain how looking at Macbeth as new historicists can help us have a deeper understanding of the play and its characters by contrasting it with the real history of Macbeth and the time period in which Shakespeare wrote the play. Take a look at this article by Wiatt Ropp: New Historicist Criticism Macbeth, which discusses why Shakespeare made some of the choices he did while writing the play and goes deeper into beliefs held by New Historicists. As always, include evidence from the texts and provide an analysis that goes beyond what we’ve discussed in class or from the readings. Think about what the Ropp says about power and King James’ ancestry.