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‘Tragedy of Macbeth’: The thane, insane, slays mainly in Dunsinane

Poet John Berryman wrote of “Macbeth” that “no other Shakespearean tragedy is so desolate, and this desolation is conveyed to us through the fantastic imagination of its hero.” The universe of the play — a haunted, violent patch of ground called Scotland — is as dark and scary as any place in literature or horror movies. This has less to do with the resident witches than with a wholesale inversion of moral order. “Fair is foul and foul is fair.” Trust is an invitation to treachery. Love can be a criminal pact or a motive for revenge. Power is untempered by mercy.

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