Sinfield, Alan. "Macbeth: history, ideology, and intellectuals."
Critical Quarterly. 28.1-2 (1986): 63-77.
Thesis: This essay is much more about politics than it is about Macbeth. In his last paragraph Sinfield says what he hopes to accomplish:
By conventional standards, the present essay is perverse. But an oppositional criticism is bound to appear thus: its task is to work across the grain of customary assumptions and, if necessary, across the grain of the text, as it is customarily perceived. Of course. literary intellectuals don't have influence over State violence, their therapeutic power is very limited. Nevertheless, writing, teaching, and other modes of communicating all contribute to the steady, long-term formation of opinion, to the establishment of legitimacy. This contribution King James himself did not neglect. An oppositional analysis of texts like Macbeth will read them to expose rather than promote, State ideologies.  (75)
Sinfield's "oppositional analysis" of Macbeth claims that the play "allows space" for another reading than the traditional one which endorses State violence, as long as it is deployed by a legitimate king against rebels and criminals. Sinfield's reading tries to erase the distinction between a legitimate king and his opponents. For instance, he writes of the play's ending: "Macduff at the end stands in the same relation to Malcolm as Macbeth did to Duncan in the beginning. He is now the king-maker on whom the legitimate monarch depends, and the recurance of the whole sequence may be anticipated (in production this might be suggested by a final meeting of Macduff and the Witches)" (70).

Evaluation: Sinfield wants to force the text to fit his ideology and even wishes that a little extra scene (Macduff Meets Witches!) could be inserted to prove his point. This guy is desperate.

Bottom Line: "the present essay is perverse"

   Author: Philip Weller
   Last Modified: 26 June 2003