Lights, camera, fate versus action: human agency and external persuasion in film adaptations of MacBeth
LE3 .A278 2020
Bachelor of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
This thesis examines three film adaptations of Macbeth and determines whether the characters are depicted as having full control over their own decisions or if they are being pressured by external influences. Through careful analysis of Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth (2015), Rupert Goold’s Great Performances: Macbeth (2010), and Billy Morrissette’s Scotland, PA (2001), I argue that each unique reading of Macbeth provides a new take on the play’s pivotal question: do people have control over their own lives? In Chapter One, the three adaptations are examined through the lens of the protagonist, as I answer whether or not Macbeth’s agency is altered by the witches, the dagger, or Banquo’s ghost. Chapter Two analyzes the depiction of Lady Macbeth in the films, as I unpack the adaptations’ readings of how much control Lady Macbeth has over her own decisions. Finally, Chapter Three examines setting in the three films and how it plays an important part in how much agency the characters have over their lives. In Kurzel’s adaptation, Macbeth is a character who has plenty of agency while those around him have very little. In Goold’s film, agency is something that is lost and won as the level of control that characters have changes as the film progresses. In Morrissette’s adaptation , there is a middle ground in which characters have agency yet still feel pressure from external sources on their decision-making.
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