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By Diogenes (articles ) | May 05, 2005

The lines below were penned 130 years ago, describing dramatis personae created 400 years ago, whose historical "originals" lived 950 years ago. See if you don't recognize in this description a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Macbeth is excitable imaginative, and his imagination alternately stimulates and enfeebles him. The facts in their clear-cut outline disappear in the dim atmosphere of surmise, desire, fear, hope, which the spirit of Macbeth effuses around the fact. But his wife sees things in the clearest and most definite outline. Her frame is filled with high-strung nervous energy. With her to perceive is forthwith to decide, to decide is to act. Having resolved upon her end, a practical logic convinces her that the means are implied and determined. Lady Macbeth gains, for the time, sufficient strength by throwing herself passionately into a single purpose, and by resolutely repressing all that is inconsistent with that purpose. Into the service of evil she carries some of the intensity and energy of asceticism -- she cuts off from herself her better nature, she yields to no weak paltering with conscience.

From Edward Dowden's Shakspere, 1876

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  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - May. 05, 2005 1:26 PM ET USA

    "Nought's had, all is spent, Where out desire is got without content. 'Tis safer to be that which we destroy Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy." III.2 Enter MacBeth