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Macbeth and the Mob

Spring 2011 Cockefair Class


Macbeth and the Mob: Is Shakespeare’s Hero a
17th century Tony Soprano?
Dr. Robert F. Willson, Jr., Professor Emeritus
Department of English
12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Tuesdays, March 1, 8, 15, and 22
UMKC Administrative Center, Plaza Room
5115 Oak St.

To register by phone, call 816-235-2736
Shakespeare’s tragedy plays out the themes of ambition and
conscience against a background of betrayal and demonic
manipulation. Its hero is at once a loyal general and ambitious
schemer, who is aided by prophecy and Lady Macbeth’s
steady but lethal hand in his quest for kingship. Although
set in medieval Scotland, the themes and characters bear
an intriguing resemblance to those in such modern-day
mob melodramas as Scarface and The Sopranos. Is Macbeth’s
struggle with his conscience comparable to Tony Soprano’s
psychic anxiety about his role as father and “family” boss?
Is the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as
codependent as that between Tony and Carmella? Do the fates
of heroes of mob films and TV programs follow the same tragic
arc as that of Macbeth? These are some of the questions we will
explore with the help of selections from film versions of Macbeth
and other sources. Participants may use any edition of Macbeth
and are asked to read the play before the first class meeting.

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