MacBeth and Friday

Today, in light of the thing that was inflicted on our nation on Friday, a lot of people were quoting George Orwell’s 1984. Now, 1984 is a favorite of mine–I used to teach a unit on that and Brave New World that I really really loved. But although those books deal with fascism and massive social oppression, they’re not the only ones that deal with a tyrant.
One of my favorite things to teach–one of the things I used to be able to recite pages of (not accurately, but the gist was pretty much there) was Macbeth. 

And so I offer you some quotes from MacBeth, just in case you find yourself, between now and the future impeachment, sputtering for words. Shakespeare has a couple of old standbys that just might come in handy:
Upon not cheating to get you what you want:

“If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me.” (Act I, Scene III)

Upon not trusting appearances or what authority says or not thinking everything that glitters is a gilt-gold toilet:
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” (Act I, Scene I)

Upon being manipulated by someone more ruthless than you are:
“Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness.” (Act I, Scene V)

Upon fucking people over while smiling in their faces:

“Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t.” (Act I, Scene V)

Upon throwing a tantrum when you’re trying to find your balls:

“I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more is none.” (Act I, Scene VII)

Upon committing cold blooded murder on a sleeping friend–or making a cowardly act sound like a warrior’s sacrifice:

“Screw your courage to the sticking-place.” (Act I, Scene VII)

Upon wanting power for power’s sake and not because you could do a better job:

“I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, and falls on the other.” (Act I, Scene VII)

Upon being afraid of all the people around you because you know they aren’t all friendly:
“There’s daggers in men’s smiles.” (Act II, Scene III)

Upon knowing Cheetoh McShitGibbon is coming to your town:
“By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.” (Act IV, Scene I)

Upon obsessing over something small and insignificant that’s a reflection of your own soiled soul–or the place where the bad Tweets come from:
“Out, damned spot! out, I say!” (Act V, Scene I).

Upon watching someone who butchers his own language try to give a speech to lead millions of people who are smarter than he is:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Act V, Scene V)

Upon mistaking power for empty privilege:

“I bear a charmed life.” (Act V, Scene VIII)

Upon not having the temperament to rule justly:
The king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them but abound
In the division of each several crime,
Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth. (Act IV, Scene III)

Upon making a subtle threat:

Fail not our feast (Act II, Scene II)

Upon being tortured by your own guilt because you did something horrible for no reason at all:

But wherefore could not I pronounce “Amen”?
I had most need of blessing, and “Amen”
Stuck in my throat. (Act II, Scene II)

Upon being irrationally afraid of things that have been made to look bad in order to entertain us:

‘Tis the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil. (Act II, Scene II)

Upon the belief that the world and the elements themselves rebel when the people in charge have reversed the roles of good and evil. Today, we call that climate change:

Ha, good father,
Thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man’s act,
Threatens his bloody stage. (Act II, Scene IV)

Upon convincing the gullible and the desperate that all of their misfortune stems from someone who not only wouldn’t hurt them, but would probably work for their betterment:

Have you considered of my speeches? Know
That it was he, in the times past, which held you
So under fortune, which you thought had been
Our innocent self. This I made good to you
In our last conference, passed in probation with you,
How you were borne in hand, how crossed, the instruments,
Who wrought with them, and all things else that might
To half a soul and to a notion crazed
Say, “Thus did Banquo.” (Act 3, Scene 1)

Upon not being able to get people to do what you want because you don’t have any leadership abilities whatsoever:

He cannot buckle his distempered cause
Within the belt of rule. (Act 5, Scene 2)

Upon commanding people who hate you, and being too small a person for the great office you’ve usurped:

Those he commands move only in command,
Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title
Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe
Upon a dwarfish thief.

0 thoughts on “MacBeth and Friday”

  1. Marsha says:

    I really really love the last one!

  2. Marsha says:

    I really, really like that last one!

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