ENG111 -- Introduction to Literature: Beholding Violence in Drama and Film

Prof. Eileen Joy

Summer 2011

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS #5: Shakespeare's Macbeth and Cavani's Ripley's Game

Figure 1. Tom Peters as Macbeth in an Oxford, UK production

Respond to TWO of the following prompts:

1. How would you describe the power relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth? Most important, what is the power dynamic between the couple at the outset of the play, and how does it change as the play progresses, and for what reasons, do you think?

2. What if you found yourself in a condition where you were able or compelled to undertake certain forbidden acts (and you thought were beyond judgment)? What might that feel like? empowering? insane? something else? How does this question pertain to Macbeth and/or Ripley's Game?

3. How might you compare and contrast the characters of Macbeth and Jonathan in Ripley's Game? How, further, are both Macbeth and Jonathan changed by the murders they commit?

4. How might you compare and contrast Lady Macbeth and one other female villain we have encountered thus far: either Clytemnestra, Medea, or Tamora?

5. Ian Johnston describes Macbeth as a divided person as regards killing Duncan. Describe in detail, using Macbeth's own words, what this division is about.

6. Freud once wrote of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, "Together they exhaust the possibilities of reaction to the crime, like two disunited parts of a single psychical individuality, and it may be that they are both copied from the same prototype." With reference to specific scenes and dialogue in the play, how might you explain and expand on Freud's statement here?

7. Identify one of the troubling moral questions that both Macbeth and Ripley's Game have in common, and then explore how they represent and "play out" this question in different ways.

Please respond to the questions with full, complete sentences. You should write AT LEAST two typed, double-spaced pages (total) in response to the two prompts you choose--what matters most to me is that you respond to these prompts with thoughtfulness and care and show me that you have something of substance to say in relation to the readings, viewings, and discussions we have had, and what that ultimately means is: MORE is always better than less, but one page per response is the MINIMUM. The questions are always interpretive in nature, and therefore there are NO right or wrong answers, only your opinion (an opinion, nevertheless, that should be grounded in a close reading of the text as well as close attention to background material presented through online links). You will want to refer to and/or quote specific passages and scenes from the texts and films in order to support your observations and ideas.

Responses should be saved as .doc or .docx [Microsoft Word] files and sent to eileenajoy@gmail.com as email attachments.