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14 - Macbeth and Trauma

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2021

David Loewenstein
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Paul Stevens
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

This chapter offers a critical reading of Macbeth as a play preoccupied with war, including civil war and border warfare. Macbeth is arguably the greatest example of a character whose brutality is condemned so soon after being celebrated. There is an exploration of doublethink in a play that holds up savagery as heroism in its opening act in the shape of the severed head of a rebel and holds up the head of the executioner, a hero-turned-villain, in its closing scene. Working at the intersection of military history and medical humanities, this reading of the play tracks the effects and aftereffects of war and wounding, examines modern responses to the play by soldiers and psychiatrists that raise issues around care and control of veterans, addresses the politics of remembering and remembrance, and reflects on recent responses to Macbeth as a drama depicting the consequences of post–traumatic stress disorder.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

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