Article Title

Origin Stories of Fear and Tyranny:Blood and Dismemberment in Macbeth (with a Glance at the Oresteia)


This article will look at the images, metaphors, and embodiments of the concept of “blood” in its several senses in Macbeth, and explore its relation to that play’s tropes of dismemberment. It looks specifically at what Shakespeare may have learned from ancient tragedy, especially in this case the Oresteia, and will suggest that the character of Lady Macbeth charts a movement from being modelled on Clytemnestra to being modelled on Cassandra. This blurring of the gap between the perpetrator and victim facing death or dismemberment—true of Orestes as well—marks out one example of Shakespeare’s use of the Greek plays to open up the consciousness and create a psychology for the tyrant or murderer, and thereby to explore the costs and meaning of a politics of blood.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.