Shakespeare in the Digital Age

Editors' Introduction

Macbeth was written in 1606, when James I had been King of England for three years. Shakespeare was writing for the theatre during the reigns of two monarchs, Queen Elizabeth I
and King James I. However, he wrote Macbeth during James's reign, exploiting the darker, cynical role reflecting the insecurities of the Jacobean period. Macbeth was written the year after the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and was first performed at Hampton Court palace for James I and his guest in 1606. The storyline of Macbeth was based on somewhat on the historical fact which was familiar to the guests. However, Shakespeare never let historical facts get in his way of telling a good story. He has transformed several key aspects of the original story to intensify his drama or to ensure political justice. He accomplished this in Macbeth showing after committing the greatest crime by murdering his king, cannot live in peace and consequences of this leads to his demise. Macbeth went against god and the order of creation which makes him inhumane and his crime is justly punished by his death. 

The Tragedy of Macbeth tells the story of a passive Macbeth turning into an ambitious tyrant with the help of his overly ambitious wife Lady Macbeth. Upon hearing a prophesy from three witches, Macbeth learns that he is destined to ascend the throne. However, it is his best friend Banquo and his children that will become his predecessor. After finding out his fate, Macbeth writes a letter to his wife explaining what was told to him. Lady Macbeth vows that she will do everything in her power to make sure her husband gets to be king and that he will stay there. With her help of Macbeth manages to achieve his prophesy, however the journey there is filled with blood. Throughout the play Macbeth’s character changers from a passive man curious about his future into a trigger happy tyrant who kills anyone he thinks stands as a slightest threat to stealing his crown. The constant violence, and use of manipulation affects him in such a way where he thinks that the end justifies the means.

Although Macbeth was written about 400 years ago the themes the play focuses on are still used and almost requited today in the film industry. The use of manipulation, the assertion of power, masculinity and how violence can affect a person’s psyche are still apparent in society today –
especially in pop culture. By dividing the play and assigning one person to different acts, we show that these themes not only appear in the play but still continue to influence the plots and actions of the characters in many television shows and films.

For example, In Act I, Afroza connects the theme of manipulation to the three witches and
their prophecy for Macbeth. The witches’ are able to convince him that he will become king after he unexpectedly became Thane of Cawdor, which the witches predicted.  And due to the manipulation
by Lady Macbeth she persuades her husband to kill the King. Similarly seen in an Indian adaptation of Macbeth called Maqbool, where the Pandit (like the witches) also made a prophecy that Maqbool will be the next don who will take over the underworld. Just like Macbeth, Maqbool then believes in the prophecy which sets the plot of both the play and the movie.

In Act II, Lizmary connects the theme of masculinity and power in the film Scotland PAThis act show how Macbeth seeks power and advancement but cannot go through with Lady Macbeths’ plan. However Lady Macbeth questions his masculinity by telling him that he isn’t man enough to kill Duncan. Eventually he follows through with her plan. In the film, a coupletry to take over the restaurant business by killing their boss, Duncan. The wife wants her husband to take the credit for the popularity of the restaurant while she is able to tag along to the image of power. This shows that even the tragic themes of Macbeth can transcend into modern comedies.

In Act III, Nia connects the themes of how violence affects a person’s psyche, the assertion of power and the use of manipulation in popular television shows such as The Walking Dead and Death Note. Act III is where Macbeth starts to undergo his change into a trigger happy tyrant. He realizes that by killing Duncan he only further helped to put Banquo’s children to his throne. Deciding that he would test fate, Macbeth meets with the murderers and manipulates them by using their pride in order to do his bidding. Just as how Macbeth appeals to the murderer’s better nature, the antagonist in the series The Walking Dead, The Governor has a new group and even a makeshift family. When he meets his old comrades he pretends that he has changed from the power hungry man he was before but it turns out to all be a lie.

In Act IV, Madelyn explores the theme of power to some pop culture movies and television
shows. Her sources are divided throughout the act and relate to each scene and that scenes particular theme. For example, Act IV scene I presents an overall theme of power, such as the witches who represent the Fates from Greek Mythology. The Fates are three sister deities that control the destinies of both mortals and the Gods. One sister spins a threat that represents life. The second draws the thread and this determines how long one will live. The third sister cuts the thread indicating your demise. They know everything there is to know about everyone and take joy is causing mischief with the knowledge they
have. Similarly to the Fates, the Three Witches exude the power of knowledge as they share their prophecy with Macbeth, wording it just enough to convince him of certain accusations. And when he seeks more information they laugh at him and vanish. When their meeting is over, Macbeth then abuses his power and ends the order for the murder of the Macduff family.

In Act V, Valerie focuses on the two themes fate and manhood. Act V scene X shows how Macbeth had to prove his courage when he was forced to sacrifice Lady Macbeth by fighting Macduff. By fighting Macduff, he knew that he was going to die, but at least he would die fighting and that’s how manhood was shown; fighting when needed to and being able to take charge of your life. The theme of manhood is shown in the lifetime movie Restless Virgins, a movie about a sex scandal that
took over a Massachusetts prep school. A group of seniors ready to graduate decide to record themselves gang banging a girl as a “gift” to pass on to the next graduation class of boys. One of the boys didn’t agree to doing the sex tape and because of that, the others questioned his manhood and he was made fun of. 

Our goal for our critical edition is for our audience to see that Shakespeare influences are use in pop culture. The pop culture categories that we decided to focus on in entertainment are films, television shows, and comedy strips. By using our edition we want to attract a young audience, amongst college student and anyone with the love of Shakespeare, hoping to bring an understanding to Shakespeare and his controversial themes. We want to show our audience that popular television shows and films have Shakespeare influence in what their watching when most of the time they do not notice. We use reference like films, television shows, and comedy strips because it can help our audience see where pop culture and Shakespeare connect. Our theme in our reference shows power, sexuality and ambition in adaptations
related to Macbeth.



Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
Dir. Alfonso Cuarón. Perf. Daniel
Radcliffe and Tom Felton. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2004. DVD.

"House of Cards -- Claire Underwood
on Maternity Care." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 06 May 2015.

"Francis Joseph "Frank"
Underwood Sings a Song to His Wife Claire."YouTube. YouTube, n.d.
Web. 06 May 2015.

Maqbool. Dir. Vishal Bhardwaj. Perf. Pankaj
Kapoor, Irfan Khan and Tabu. Kaleidoscope Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, 2004. DVD.

Beauty and the Beast. Dir. Gary
Trousdale and Kirk Wise. By Linda Woolverton, Paige O'Hara, and Robby Benson.
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc., 1991.DVD.


“The Dagger.” The Simpsons: The complete twentieth

Writ. Valentina L. Garza. Dir . Ryamond S. Persi. Prod.Al Jean. FX
Networks LLC, 2014. online. 

John A Davis. Jimmy Neutron. March 31 2010.

Scotland PA. Dir. Billy Morrissette.Perf. Maura
Tierney.James Legros.Christopher Walken.Lots 

47 Films, 2001. DVD. 

Xptanjaxp. “double trouble”. Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube. 25 Dec. 2010 


“Hunted.” Eric, Kripke.
Supernatural. CW. WPIX. British
Columbia. 11 Jan 2007. Television

“Bad Day at Black
Rock.” Eric, Kripke. Supernatural. CW.
WPIX. British Columbia. 18 Oct 2007. Television.

“Too Far Gone.” Robert,
Kirkman. The Walking Dead. AMC.
United States. 01 Dec 2013. Television.

“The Sacred Taking” Ryan,
Murphy. American Horror Story: Coven. FX.
New Orleans. 04 Dec 2013. Television.

“Confrontation.” Tsugumi, Ohba.
Death Note. Adult Swim. 28 Oct 2007.

“Defeat Your Friends To
Save Your Friends.” Hiro, Mashima. Fairy
. Funimation. 22 Aug 2012. Television.


Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf. Tobey Maguire, James Franco. Sony Pictures Entertainment,

. Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf. Tobey Maguire, James Franco. Sony Pictures
Entertainment, 2004.

 Hercules. Dir. Ron Clements and John Musker. Perf. Tate
Donovan, Danny DeVito. Walt Disney Animation Studios, 1997. YouTube. 

 "The Fates." The Fates., n.d. Web. 05 May 2015.

 DiMartino, Michael D., and
Konietzko Konietzko. "The Western Air Temple." Avatar: The Last Airbender. 14 July
2008. Television. 

 The Terminator. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Arnold
Hemdale Film Corporation, 1984.  

 The Godfather. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Al
Pacino, Marlon Brando. Paramount Pictures, 1972.

 Scarface. Dir. Brian De Palma. Perf. Al Pacino,
Michelle Pfeiffer. Universal Studios, 1983. 


Virgins. Perf. Vanessa Marano, Max Lloyd-Jones, Charlie Carver. Front Street
Pictures, 2013. Film. 

Good Deed. Perf. Idris Elba Taraji P. Henson. Screen Gems, 2014. Film. 

Perf. Tate Donovan, Danny DeVito, James Woods, Susan Egan, Rip Torn. Buena
Vista Pictures, 1997. Film. 

Perf. Brad Pitt Eric Bana Orlando Bloom Diane Kruger Brian Cox Sean Bean
Brendan Gleeson Peter O'Toole. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2004. Film. 

"The Vampire Diaries.” Plec, Julie. CW. 10 sept. 2009. Television. 

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