By Hans-Peter Wagner
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Extra info for A History of British Irish and American Literature
Surprisingly, the beginnings of fiction were not further developed. The religious debates, with their pamphleteering wars, and the many wars of the seventeenth century may be responsible to a certain extent. If anything flourished, it was the prose romance that came from France with the interminable books by Madeleine de Scudéry16. Her Le Grand Cyrus was translated in 1655 and enjoyed great popularity. A new type of fiction did not emerge for several decades. It came with John Bunyan (1628-88), the Engraving from A Pilgrim’s Progress.
Thereupon Macbeth has Lady Macduff and her children murdered and learns that Macduff has joined Duncan's son Malcolm. Lady Macbeth becomes insane and dies, and Macduff, returning with Malcolm's newly gathered army from England, kills Macbeth and thus makes the prediction of the witches come true. Many of Shakespeare's tragedies figure heroes embodying common human faults, such as pride, jealousy, ingratitude and prodigality, and it is their weaknesses, however slight they may be, that ruin them.
Lear dies from grief, and Edgar eventually proves his brother Edmund's treachery. While Othello and Lear become victims of their jealousy and imprudence, Macbeth is overpowered by destiny and the entreaties of his wife. The tragedy of Macbeth was first performed at the Globe Theatre in 1606. The play opens with Macbeth and Banquo, generals of Duncan, returning from a victory over rebels. The two friends meet three witches who prophesy that Macbeth shall be "thane of Cawdor" and then king, and that Banquo shall beget kings.