Wednesday 10 December, 4.15pm
Room 311, University of Westminster, Wells Street, London W1T 3UW
Dr Nigel Mapp, University of Westminster
“The very painting of your fear”: Macbeth as Sceptic Medium
Any convincing account of agency – one that does not, for instance, sceptically limit responsibility to intentions – must see it as theatrical. Deeds are socially expressed and corrigible. What then of Macbeth’s theatricality? The play seems to offer a drastically over-determined picture of agency – of who does and decides to do what, and why. But what sort of “picture” of a dismantled significance is this? The paper considers the question in terms of Macbeth’s Stoic and nominalist emphases and the violent self-domination, effected through faith and adherence to alien law, represented in its protagonist. The play, it is argued, mortifies this wish to escape a fate internally related to deeds – call it the tragic – by intensification of what appears to be a sceptical process of formal self-reflection. By examining the role of some visions and images, and of the iconoclastic (demystifying, false) theories of these laid out in the play, the reading pieces out a theatre of a modern fate: the deathliness that scepticism would ward off, but everywhere reproduces.
The Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture
University of Westminster Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies
32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW. United Kingdom.