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This dramatic work was probably inspired by an actual performance of Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. Encouraged by the deceptive prophecy of witches, Macbeth and his wife plot to take the crown of Scotland by murdering King Duncan in his sleep. Here Macbeth emerges horrified from the murder scene off-stage, still holding the bloodied weapons. Lady Macbeth takes control of her husband and the situation but by the end of the play, consumed by guilt, she succumbs to madness and suicide. This is one of the most psychologically charged scenes in the play, and Fuseli has treated it with a nightmarish almost supernatural intensity. [102]

March 2010