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Chapter Seven Macbeth's Future: "A Thing of Custom"

1. David Bevington, discussing the play New Customs (ca. 1563), notes that Protestantism "must be seen not as revolutionary but as 'primitive constitution,' the restored church of Christ's first apostles. 'New Custom' is actually a pejorative term, foisted on the elect by those who would claim antiquity for themselves. . . . [T]he play castigates the reactionary habit of doing 'as thy fathers have doone before thee'" ( Tudor Drama and Politics [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968], 130-131). [BACK]

2. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution , 36. [BACK]

3. Spenser believed English customs derived from the Norman yoke, thereby excusing the imposition of English customs on Ireland; see Diane Parkin-Speer, "Allegorical Legal Trials in Spenser's The Faerie Queene," Sixteenth Century Journal 23 (1992): 494-505. Coke argued furiously that the Norman invasion was not a conquest, but a restoration of William's "pretended" legal title against Harold, just as he argues that the Grand Customary of Normandy derived from earlier English law, and so was not its source (Edward Coke, Argumentum Anti-Normanicum [1682], v, cxviii). Later Coke cites Fortescue's De Politica administratione & Legibus Civilibus libus florentissimi Regni Angliae Commentarius to the effect that "the self same Customs that it is now governed withal" have obtained since the Romans ruled, ''which if they had not been right good, some of these Kings, moved either with Justice, or with Reason or Affection, would have changed them, or else altogether abolish [ sic ] them" ( Le Size Part des Reports [London, 1697], fol. A2 v ). [BACK]

4. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution , 32, citing Fortescue, De laudibus legum Angliae , chap. 17. [BACK]

5. "James favored Roman law against the pretensions of the common law tradition that supported Parliament, and Roman law underlay the civil law, church law—and Scottish law. In his Star Chamber speech of 1616, he was at pains to distinguish civil and canon law from the common law, and to insist that it keep its place and not encroach on the royal prerogative" (Jonathan Goldberg, James I and the Politics of Literature [Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983], 47, citing Leah Marcus, "Masquing Occasions and Masque Structure," Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 24 [1981]: 7-16, and David Harris Willson, King James VI and I [New York: Oxford University Press, 1956], 257ff.). [BACK]

6. See André Chastel, The Sack of Rome , 1527. [BACK]

7. See Anne Lancashire, "The Emblematic Castle," in Minor Up to Shakespeare: Essays in Honour of G. R. Hibbard , ed. J. C. Gray (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), 223-241. She cites John B. Barcourt, "I Pray You, Remember the Porter," Shakespeare Quarterly 12 (1961): 393-402; Paul A. Jorgensen, Our Naked Frailties (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971); Glynne Wickham, "Hell-Castle and Its Door-Keeper," Shakespeare Survey 19 (1966): 68-74; John Doebler, Shakespeare's Speaking Pictures (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1974), 132-137. See also Edgar Schell, Strangers and Pilgrims: From "The Castle of Perseverance" to ''King Lear " (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), and the index to large numbers of castles, both realistic and emblematic, found in medieval and Renaissance drama and pageantry in Ian Lancashire, Dramatic Texts and Records of Britain: A Chronological Topography to 1558 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983). [BACK]

8. Bevington, Tudor Drama and Politics , 35. [BACK]

9. In addition to having the social significance traced here, the castle was, of course, often an image of the soul. According to James Nohrnberg, "The interiority of the Castle might be taken as a kind of paradigm for all enclosed spaces in the poem that stand for something inviolate in experience. It is a castle belonging to a virgin (Hebrew almah ), but it is also a virgin castle, like the 'castellum' of Martha and Mary, which, because Christ entered there, is a part of the homily for the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. (Such a castle appears in the Digby play of Mary Magdalene , and is attacked by the seven deadly sins)" ( The Analogy of "The Faerie Queene, " 328). [BACK]

10. T. S. Eliot, "Dante," in Selected Essays (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, n.d.), 203. [BACK]

11. My student Paula von Loewenfeldt points out to me that Akira Kurosawa's 1957 version of Macbeth , where castles figure prominently as sites of civility and intrigue, is rifled not Throne of Blood but Kumonosu-jo (Castle of the Spider's Web). [BACK]

12. Harry Berger, Jr., "The Early Scenes of Macbeth : Preface to a New Interpretation," ELH 47 (1980): 1-31, 29. [BACK]

13. Berger argues that Scotland was no harmonious state under Duncan and that "the killing of the king may be a recurrent feature of the political process by which the kingdom periodically rids itself of the poison accumulating within it as a result of normal institutional functions ("The Early Scenes," 25). G. M. Trevelyan finds a similar pattern in history: when Mary Stuart mar-

ried Bothwell, Darnley's murderer, "her subjects supposed her precognizant of the deed. True, assassination was still a custom of the country. Knox had not disapproved the slaughter of Cardinal Beaton, and Darnley had conducted the tragedy of Rizzio. But people had a prejudice against the killing of husbands by their wives" ( A Shortened History of England [1942; New York: Longmans, 1951], 226). [BACK]

14. Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland , 6 vols. (1808; New York: AMS, 1965), 5:269. Shakespeare realized he was using a conflation of sources molded to the Protestant Tudor position, according to David Nor-brook, " Macbeth and the Politics of Historiography," in Stephen Zwicker and Kevin Sharpe, eds., Politics of Discourse: The Literature and History of Seventh-Century England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 78-116. [BACK]

15. See, for example, Erich Köhler, "Le rôle de la 'coutume' dans les romans de Chrétiens de Troyes," Romania 81 (1960): 386-397. [BACK]

16. David Quint, Epic and Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 260. [BACK]

17. For Brutus, see Julius Caesar , 3.2.45 ("I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death"); compare Othello 1.3.294 ("My life upon her faith!"). [BACK]

18. Huntington Cairns notes, "In the Case of Tanistry , decided in 1608, the common law tests of custom were applied to the Irish Brehon law of succession. Although the existence of the custom could not be denied, the judges with the aid of the tests were able to pronounce illegal the native tenures of land" ( Legal Philosophy from Plato to Hegel [Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1949], 221-222). The Case of Tanistry was reported by Sir John Davies. [BACK]

19. Holinshed's Chronicles , 5:269. [BACK]

20. Ibid., 5:271. [BACK]

21. William Empson saw the temporal ambiguity of this passage, "where gentle might just as well be, and suggests, 'ungentle,' because the weal is conceived as 'ungentle' before it was purged and gentle afterwards" ( Seven Types of Ambiguity [1930; London: Chatto and Windus, 1963], 203). [BACK]

22. Holinshed's Chronicles , 5:271. [BACK]

23. Ibid., 5:274. [BACK]

24. Shakespeare had a fondness for ambiguous prophecies, easily created in Latin, where the infinitive takes the object case: "Aio te, Aecida, Romanos vincere posse," quips York, when Margery Jordan's spirits announce that Suffolk

will die by "water" (a sailor named Walter kills him) and Somerset should "shun castles" ( 2 Henry VI 1.4). [BACK]

25. The play is a moral spectacle, R. S. Crane wrote, because Macbeth acts in full knowledge of the moral character of what he does. It is the story of "a man, not naturally depraved, who has fallen under the compulsive power of an imagined better state for himself which he can attain only by acting contrary to his normal habits and feelings" ( The Languages of Criticism and the Structure of Poetry [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1953], 171-172). [BACK]

26. Anthony Munday, trans., Palmerin d'Oliva: The Mirrour of Nobilitie (London, 1615), chap. 47. I have modernized the spelling. [BACK]

27. Lewes Lavater, Of Ghostes and Spirites Walking by Nyght (1572), ed. J. Dover Wilson and May Yardley (Oxford: At the University Press, 1929), 91. I have modernized the text. [BACK]

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