Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. When three witches prophesy that Macbeth will be king one day, he is not prepared to wait and almost the next day he murders King Duncan as he sleeps, a guest at Macbeth’s castle. From there we explore their brutal world where few boundaries are distinct - between safe and unsafe, friend and foe, real and unreal, man and beast - until Macbeth too is slaughtered.

The image above shows Nicol Williamson as Macbeth in a 1983 BBC TV adaptation.

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  • Emma Smith 6 episodes
    Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, University of Oxford
  • Kiernan Ryan No other episodes
    Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London
  • David Schalkwyk No other episodes
    Professor of Shakespeare Studies and Director of Global Shakespeare at Queen Mary, University of London

Reading list

  • Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human
    Harold Bloom (Fourth Estate, 1999) Google Books →
  • Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth
    A. C. Bradley (Penguin Books, 1991) Google Books →
  • Autobiographical Sketches
    Thomas de Quincey (Dodo Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Macbeth: A Critical Reader
    John Drakakis and Dale Townshend (eds.) (Bloomsbury, 2013) Google Books →
  • Shakespeare After Theory
    David Scott Kastan (Routledge, 1999) Google Books →
  • Macbeth
    William Shakespeare (ed. Sandra Clark and Pamela Mason) (The Arden Shakespeare: Bloomsbury, 2015) Google Books →
  • 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear
    James Shapiro (Faber & Faber, 2015) Google Books →
  • Macbeth: Contemporary Critical Essays
    Alan Sinfield (ed.) (Macmillan, 1992) Google Books →
  • Macbeth: Language and Writing
    Emma Smith (The Arden Shakespeare: Bloomsbury, 2013) Google Books →
  • Macbeth: A Selection of Critical Essays
    John Wain (ed.) (Macmillan, 1968) Google Books →
  • Actors on Shakespeare: Macbeth
    Harriet Walter (Faber & Faber, 2002)

Related episodes

Programme ID: m000mytn

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Auto-category: 822.33 (English drama)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Shakespeare's Macbeth is one of his greatest tragedies.