Friday, 24 May 2013

What Would be Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's Song?

Francesca Annis and Joe Finch in Polankski's Macbeth
It's fairly widely accepted that (at least before the murder of Duncan) the Macbeths are the happiest married couple to feature in any of Shakespeare's plays. I'd go as far as to say their relationship is one of the strongest (married or otherwise) that Shakespeare wrote.

A knee-jerk reaction might be to suppose that Romeo and Juliet are the great Shakespearean lovers, but let's think about that for a second: Romeo and Juliet are both incredibly young and Romeo, in particular, is spectacularly impetuous. We know, for example, that his affections (although undoubtedly strong), are apt to change. Would they have gone the distance or would Romeo have ditched Juliet as soon as some other beautiful young woman waltzed into his field of vision?

We'll never know, because he took his own life at the height of his passion for lovely Miss Capulet. But I'm not sure this tale of teen suicide is quite as romantic as some would claim.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, have gone the distance. As far as we know, they're loyal to each other. Certainly at the start of their play, they're very open - Macbeth's first instinct is to tell his wife about the witches prophecy.

And they work as a team when it comes to plotting and covering up the murder of Duncan. Okay, that might not be the most romantic activity a married couple can partake in; it doesn't scream 'date night', but it says something about the kind of relationship they have.

The fact of the matter is the play is all the more tragic, because part of Macbeth's downfall involves the destruction of his once very happy, extremely loving marriage. And as all soppy romantics have 'their song', I wondered what would be an appropriate one for the Macbeths...here's what I came up with.

Peter Cetera: The Glory of Love



I don't hold with this notion that Lady Macbeth makes her husband murder Duncan - that simplistic interpretation of their relationship is insulting to both Macbeth and Shakespeare. That said, it is clear that Macbeth (like most men) wants to be viewed as masculine, powerful and capable...he especially wants to be seen that way by his wife. And to paraphrase Mr Cetera, Macbeth is always strong when Lady M is beside him.

Take That: Rule The World



On a similar theme, Take That implies that a solid couple could indeed rule the entire world. It's a theory, I think, the Macbeths would subscribe to. And speaking of ruling the world, that bring us neatly onto another song that could have been written for Shakespeare's most famous married couple...

Garbage: The World is Not Enough




Ignore the fact it's a Bond theme and the fact that the Macbeths only want to rule Scotland, and go with me on this one. I think it's fair to say, if they hadn't been so preoccupied with keeping the throne and concealing their crimes, they would have moved on to bigger and better things. One thing's for sure, I don't think they would ever have been satisfied - relatively few of us ever are. 

Meat Loaf: I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)





Let's be honest, there isn't much the Macbeths won't do for love. In fact, unlike Meat Loaf, I think they can do away with the parenthetical, 'but I won't do that'.  If Lady Macbeth is to be believed, she'd kill her own baby...these things are easy to say though, right?

Kelly Clarkson: Dark Side



Everybody may have a dark side, but some are darker than others. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have a particularly dark side. Initially, this is fine with both of them, but as it turns out they're not able of loving that side of themselves or each other.

Michael Sembello: Maniac




Okay, there's no dancing (flash or otherwise) going on in Macbeth, but I'm sure there are many people who would describe Lady Macbeth as a maniac. In truth, it's a label that could be applied to either of them, especially in the latter half of the play.

If there are other songs you think would fit my favourite Scottish, Shakespearean couple, leave your suggestions in the comments below. And if you'd like to find out more about Macbeth, take a gander at What's It All About, Shakespeare? A Guide to Macbeth.

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