1 year ago
Monday, May 23, 2011
The Tournier banquet reminds us of one of Shakespeare’s most famous scenes: the banquet that Macbeth throws to celebrate his splendid new Kingship.
All the nobility and accompanying VIPs have been invited. Lady Macbeth, very experienced in such social occasions, is gracious to everyone.
There is actually an element of farce in this scene. It’s the kind of thing usually played for comedy: the elegant supper party where everything goes wrong. But the play’s audience is aware that the background of the scene is far from funny. The Macbeths have committed regicide; they have murdered Duncan, the previous King, though no one at the banquet is aware of this.
Macbeth’s second murder is to be of Banquo, a colleague, a friend. He doesn’t actually commit the murder; he has a hired killer do the deed. When he asks the murderer, “Banquo’s safe?” the man knows just what is meant. “Aye, my good lord, safe in a ditch he lies.”
And the banquet goes on, an event everyone is enjoying. Lady M. is in her element, charming all with her social poise.
But the pleasant occasion is wrecked beyond retrieval; Banquo shows up. He is, of course, a ghost, but Macbeth sees the real Banquo, sitting there in his chair. No one else sees him, of course.
The new King is visibly shaken, distraught; he cries out to his wife: “Can such things be?”
Lady M shifts into damage control mode. She tells the guests that the King is suffering a bit from an old illness, nothing to worry about.
Macbeth then cries out to the ghost: “Avaunt! And quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!”
Lady M. decides that it would perhaps be better if everyone just left. “Good night! Stand not upon the order of your going but go at once.”