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Comparative Study on Two Versions of Macbeth

  • Category: Literature
  • Subcategory: Plays
  • Topic: Macbeth
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 890
  • Published: 09 May 2018
  • Downloads: 56
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Macbeth has been performed by many different groups and companies throughout the years because it is perhaps one of the most potent political statements in Western drama, and perhaps one of Shakespeare’s best scripts. Though the PBS and RSC versions of the play have many differences, they are still brilliant interpretations of the play. Through excellent acting as well as scenery and sound effects they transport us into the play giving the characters’ life and raw emotion that is essential to theater. Even though both plays differentiate in many ways, they are still incredibly similar in the fact that they keep Macbeth as the main character, have a hierarchy and most importantly, keep the plot that same as in the original script as a solemn tribute to Shakespeare.

The 2010 variant of Macbeth is set in a substitute history, battle ready Scotland. The day and age could be anyplace from the 1940s to the 1950s. Numerous fast clasps are appeared of howitzers and other vast weapons of war. A great many troopers are seen parading through huge focal squares, like scenes from Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. This version of the play also keeps the discourse of a traditional Shakespearian play. Because of this, the play/movie has a very long run time. This film was formulated to give a play that was based in Shakespeare time, a modernistic approach and viewpoint. The intermingling of both the past and the present in this film was done in an interesting way. Even in the first couple scenes the language and the actions of the characters portrays Shakespeare as opposed to how they would have spoken or acted during those times. Some of the effects during the film added to the suspense, effect, and drama of the play but it also took away from the language sometimes because it was distracting. Another change in the play that differs from the original version would be how instead of the three witches being witches, they are instead portrayed as evil, nurses.

As for the RSC version of the play, only 100 people viewed this rendition at first. There was a finite amount of money that was spent on the props, costumes, and scenery. Because of the lack of funds diverted to costumes, props, etc. there was more money and time to focus on the actors. There was a very select cast with many of them playing multiple roles due to the short cast list. The weapons that were used during this performance were from Shakespeare’s time, showing that the play is portrayed during Shakespeare’s time. The background of the set and the scenery is dark, gloomy and smoky with a relative spotlight on the actors, strictly drawing the eye straight to them. The characters themselves are incredibly dramatic with their voices booming and their acting so diverse and artistic that it drew the audience into the play. The cast worked very well together, practically in a circle, each drawing off their fellow actor’s brilliance and using that to make themselves appear more magnanimous and incredible.

In both plays, fear was present in the audience during certain scenes because they were so dramatic and intense that it felt like we were there. During the performances, there was also a sense of constraint. This made it seem like the actors were constantly holding back raw emotions on the inside; this was masterfully done because, in Macbeth, not everything could be said all the time because of circumstances, so the constraint properly portrayed the feelings of holding back that the actual characters in the play must have felt. Macbeth in the original play was the main character and was viewed as having a higher standing so to speak than the other characters in the book and by his subordinates. This analysis shows that though the film/movies themselves were very different from the original production of Macbeth, there were still many similarities that can be found. Another is how at the beginning of the PBS version of the play, many of the lines spoken and the situations around them was directly parallel to the original script. In the RSC version, theiweaponry and dress was the same as the original script showing a loyalty to it. One of the principal similarities between the play and movie to the script is that they stayed true to the plot of the original script. This shows that even though Shakespeare was writing hundreds of years ago he still holds sway over a lot of writers today and the writers hold him in such high regard that they would not dare to alter one of his best and most prominent plays.

Macbeth, as one of Shakespeare’s most revered plays, has been re-enacted many times and in many ways. The RSC and PBS versions of the plays portray all the different possible ways the play can be acted out. These two different formats render Shakespeare’s play down to the essentials then they build the play back up from their own views, giving the play a uniqueness to each separate different performance. The plot staying the same though, in every script, even though many changes can be made to the play, shows the respect and reverence that they hold for Shakespeare is incredible.

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Comparative Study on Two Versions of Macbeth. (2018, May 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 3, 2021, from
“Comparative Study on Two Versions of Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 09 May 2018,
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