An Essay on L. C. Knights’ Criticism and Roman Polanski’s Macbeth

Angeliki Vagena     C3843806               28/03/2013
TMA 02

A Cycle of Evil


A Statement of Blood

An essay on L. C. Knights’ criticism and Roman Polanski’s Macbeth

L.C. Knights says:

      Macbeth is a statement of evil. I use the word statement (unsatisfactory as it is) in order to stress those qualities that are ′non-dramatic′, if drama is defined according to the canons of William Archer or Dr. Bradley. It also happens to be poetry, which means that the apprehension of the whole can only be obtained from a lively attention to the parts, whether they have an immediate bearing on the main action or ′illustrate character′, or not.

(Brown and Johnson, 2000b, p.119)

With this declaration (and with his whole essay in general) ‘Knights seeks to discredit the ′character criticism′ of earlier Shakespeareans like A. C. Bradley’ (Brown and Johnson, 2000b, p.116). Simultaneously Knights tries to present a new approach to Shakespeare criticism: ‘For Knights, Shakespeare’s plays are to be treated as ′dramatic poems′, with a critical practice built upon meticulous attention to language, rather than unsupported speculation about character and plot’ (Brown and Johnson, 2000b, p.116). Knights states, that ‘a play of Shakespeare’s is a precise particular experience, a poem’ (Brown and Johnson, 2000b, p.118) and that Shakespeare’s dramatic poetry itself should be considered the most important aspect of his plays:

      A Shakespeare play is a dramatic poem. It uses action, gesture, formal grouping and symbols, and it relies upon the general conventions governing Elizabethan plays. But, we cannot too often remind ourselves, its end is to communicate a rich and controlled experience by means of words – words used in a way to which, without some training, we are no longer accustomed to respond.

(Brown and Johnson, 2000b, p.117)

To emphasize his point, Knights also mentions the negative consequences of character-...