Terrorism and Culture: Macbeth, 9/11 and the Gunpowder Plot

Graham Holderness

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This article offers a critique of Robert Appelbaum’s work on Shakespeare and terrorism, particularly his reflections on Macbeth and the Gunpowder Plot. It argues that terrorism such as that exemplified by the Gunpowder Plot and 9/11 may, whatever their ostensible motives, be in reality nihilistic, merely destructive and offering (in Derrida’s words) “nothing good to be hoped for”. The achievement of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is to expose, via the languages of poetry and religion, the ‘mystery of iniquity’ (2 Thess. 2.7) that lies behind all terrorism.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalActes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare
Early online date4 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2018


  • Robert Appelbaum
  • Gunpowder Plot
  • Macbeth
  • nihilism
  • terrorism
  • 9/11


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