By Katie Mao, IV Form
“The Bloody Crown” and “The Bloody Wall”: Two Macbeth Posters
The Bloody Crown
The first poster with the black background advertises a middle school play. I chose dark colors to emphasize that the play, Macbeth, is a tragedy. Not all middle schoolers know the plot at all, so I used color rather than words to show them what to expect. Middle schoolers might not take the time to read the rating or description of a play, so the bold colors might catch their attention. The colors strike a balance between being spooky and peculiar.
This poster highlights important elements of Macbeth beginning with main characters from the play: the three witches who prophecy the future of the kingdom. Also, blood is a prominent aspect of the entire play, along with violence and disorder. Rather than highlighting the main character, Macbeth, I wanted to present a new type of story to potential students to feature unnatural elements as the primary theme. Thus, three witches show the unnatural elements as a central element of the play. The witches concoct a literal potion in an unnatural environment, but the result of the concoction is the future of Scotland; the viewer is situated within the cauldron, looking up at the witches. The poster is based on the quote, “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble” (Macbeth IV.i.10-11).
In the play, the audience learns about the influence of fate on the plot. The kingdom of Scotland’s future lies in the witches’ hands. One of the prophecies that the witches share with Macbeth is that Banquo “[will] be the root and father of many kings … the seed of Banquo kings” (Macbeth III.i.69-77). When Macbeth learns Fleance, son of Banquo, will benefit from Macbeth’s hard work, this infuriates Macbeth, which leads him to kill everyone who threatens his rule. At the bottom of the poster, the blood informs the audience about the violence and gore that permeates the play. Looking closer, one can see that the drop of blood splashes into the shape of the crown. This reinforces Macbeth’s path to the throne is marked by blood.
The Bloody Wall
This poster would be hanging at a New York public library. The majority of the people visiting the library would have a basic understanding of Macbeth since it is a known classic; this is why I did not incorporate any textual references, allowing the viewer to interpret the visual their own way. The blood dripping from the top and bottom of the poster represents the tragedy of the play. Currently, pop art is accepted and acknowledged by a lot of people. Rather than designing the poster in an old fashion, I mixed the medieval timeline with a hint of modern art.
If the audience looks closely and studies the poster, they will see four important references to the book: the three witches, the sword, the Scottish castle, and Birnam Wood. The witches are the characters who control the sequence of events throughout Macbeth. The play takes place in Scotland, and this is referenced at the bottom left of the poster by the red outline of a medieval castle. The hand holding a sword located on the right of the poster, dripping in red from the top of the poster, alludes to the battle and soldiers in the play. This not only gives an insight into the play’s history, but also shows the type of characters included in the play, such as soldiers and kings. At the center of the poster, I included some important characters, the three witches. All three of them are reaching upward and surrounded by blood, and they do this with pleasure because of all the power and influence they hold over the clueless kinsmen. All the witches praised Macbeth for his bravery, selflessness, and victories: “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (Macbeth I.iii.51-53). It might seem like small praise, but the comments that the witches make are all part of their plan to brainwash Macbeth and plant the thought of murder in his mind. Murder is a critical theme in the story, and with all the bloodshed it becomes fate for many characters; that is why the sword is an important remembrance of all the battles and betrayals that the play includes. Finally, despite all the violence and chaos, there is a solution in Birnam Wood. The witches prophesied that “Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him” (Macbeth 4.1 95-98). Birnam Wood is the solution, on the poster emerging behind the bloody witches. It could be further interpreted that the witches have been hiding this answer and that the forest is surrounding the kingdom and protecting the future kings from anything so horrible from happening again.
Katie Mao is a IV form boarding student from Beijing, China, although she used to live in California. She enjoys drawing, visiting exhibitions, and traveling with her family and friends during the summer.
Shakespeare, William,, Mowat, Barbara A. Werstine, Paul. The Tragedy Of Macbeth. New York: Washington Square Press, 2004, c1992.