Friday, January 29, 2010

Lady Macbeth Speaks

We have spoken many times about Colin and autism and how reading comprehension is his most difficult task. I've also written how difficult this is for me, a born reader. Go back and read this if you need a refresher.

We've been scrapping along getting those reading points. He's been keeping up, but I will be glad for a summer break and so will Colin.

So, to be honest, I gave a long suffering sigh when he pulled an elementary version of Macbeth out of his backpack the other day. Great. Shakespeare. College students spend entire semesters studying Macbeth and Colin and I are to tackle it in a couple of days. Sigh. I just really wondered how we were going to get through it, but I opened it up and we started.

We got about halfway through the book the first day and a little bit farther the next. I stopped every page and gave a dramatic interpretation of what we had just read. Colin asked, "Is this a play, Mom?" Why, yes, son, it is. According to Wikipedia:

At least since the days of Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson, analysis of the play has centred on the question of Macbeth's ambition, commonly seen as so dominant a trait that it defines the character. Johnson asserted that Macbeth, though esteemed for his military bravery, is wholly reviled. This opinion recurs in critical literature. Like Richard III, but without that character's perversely appealing exuberance, Macbeth wades through blood until his inevitable fall. As Kenneth Muir writes, "Macbeth has not a predisposition to murder; he has merely an inordinate ambition that makes murder itself seem to be a lesser evil than failure to achieve the crown." Some critics, such as E. E. Stoll, explain this characterisation as a holdover from Senecan or medieval tradition. Shakespeare's audience, in this view, expected villains to be wholly bad, and Senecan style, far from prohibiting a villainous protagonist, all but demanded it.

Got that?

I reviewed, reviewed, reviewed and seeing an opportunity for yet more review, asked Colin at dinner last night if he would like to tell the story to his dad. I sort of steeled myself wondering if any of the intricate plot and myriad of characters had sunk in.

"Sure," Colin said. "Macbeth sees three witches who say he's going to be king, so he kills King Duncan and Lady Macbeth smears blood on the guards to make it look like they did it. Then he becomes king. They have a party and Macbeth sees a ghost."

My chin hit the floor. My eyes pricked with tears.

Then he said, "It's sort of a good story."

I sat frozen to my chair and watched him turn on his heel to go in to the TV room to watch a game show. Colin loves game shows. They are so orderly and predictable. Whether the contestant wins or loses you know what to expect. Now it's time to guess. Now it's time to spin the wheel. Now it's time for the big finale.

Every time I think Colin is orderly and predictable, he surprises me. An ancient story of greed and betrayal with lots of stabbing and blood is a good story to an 11 year old, no matter how hard the struggle to read it.

I hope we have time to finish it tonight.

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