• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare adapt the holinshed chronicles to create an entertaining piece of theatre?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

John Thompson Mrs. C. Mates English Coursework June 26th 2008 HOW DOES SHAKESPEARE ADAPT THE HOLINSHED CHRONICLES TO CREATE AN ENTERTAINING PIECE OF THEATRE? The Holinshed Chronicles, first published in 1577, contained factual accounts of the reign of Macbeth, and was used as the source material for Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth'. During this essay, how Shakespeare used, edited and manipulated this information will be analysed. There are several reasons why Macbeth was a good choice for Shakespeare to base a play on. Firstly, Banquo, a character in 'Macbeth', was related to the current King of England and Scotland, James I, so if Shakespeare portrayed Banquo as a good person, his play would gain instant popularity with the royal family. Another reason Shakespeare was drawn to Macbeth was because the factual story of Macbeth included the predictions of three strange women, or witches, and as people in the early 17th century took witchcraft very seriously, it added extra tension for the audience, and once again suited the interests of James I, who had a well known interest in witchcraft. It was typical for Shakespeare's plays to derive from other people's work, for example, 'Macbeth' was taken from the Holinshed Chronicles. Another example of this is the play 'Romeo and Juliet', which was taken from an Italian poem, and turned into a play by Shakespeare. When creating 'Macbeth', Shakespeare's main aims were for his play to be popular with the Royal Family, and therefore popular with the general public, which meant that he would make a lot of money from the production. It was also important that the play wasn't too long, and was easy to perform on stage. Shakespeare included three witches from the beginning of 'Macbeth' to incorporate Macbeth into the central role of the play straight away. According to Holinshed, there were not only witches, but also "certeine wizzards" who prophesied about Macbeth. ...read more.

Middle

This has resulted in many productions cutting his scene in England, and Shakespeare changing the location of Macbeth's final battle. According to Holinshed, when Macbeth finds out about Macduff being born by Caesarean section, "Macduff was from his mother's womb untimely ripped." he flees, and is pursued by Macduff. However, in the play, Macbeth and Macduff fight at Dunsinane and Macbeth is ultimately slain. This is an example of how stagecraft was a major hurdle in Shakespeare's productions, and how they were written. Shakespeare based Lady Macbeth on a person from Holinshed, Queen Gruoch of Scotland, however, he strongly exaggerates and changes the character to suit her role in the play. Lady Macbeth plays a key role in the plot of the play from the first time we see her, at the end of Act 1. Without Lady Macbeth, it is very probable that the play's plot wouldn't be able to exist, as it is Lady Macbeth who fuels Macbeth's ambitions throughout the play. She is constantly twisting the thoughts of Macbeth and propelling him to do the awful things that he does throughout. In Lady Macbeth's first appearance, when she hears of the witches predictions she calls on evil spirits to assist her in her plans for Duncan's murder, "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe topfull of direst cruelty." As the play progresses, we see Lady Macbeth overpower the will and thoughts of Macbeth, for example, when she proposes the murder of Duncan, Macbeth goes back on his word, saying that he wants nothing to do with the murder. At the end of that same scene, however, Lady Macbeth has managed to manipulate his thoughts, and get him to go through with the murder, "I have given suck and know how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this." ...read more.

Conclusion

In reality, Macbeth's reign over Scotland lasted 17 years before he was killed, however, this would have been inappropriate for a play of this length, so Shakespeare had to narrow his reign down to only a few months. This helped the performance, because it made it much more dramatic, creating a better audience response. Settings of the play also had to be narrowed down, due to time, cost and convenience on stage. For example, in reality, there was lots more English involvement, and Shakespeare only covers a very small scene in England. This is because the play is explained well enough without the English scene, so it was un-necessary to add more scenes which weren't needed. After having the chance to study the play from both the book and movie, it's clearer what limitations Shakespeare had. For example, in a film, special effects can be added, and more scenes made available in the production. On stage however, there are more limitations, for example, when Birnam Wood 'moves' towards Dunsinane Castle, effects can be added in a film, but on stage you are limited to basic props and no additional technology. This changes how the audience interprets the story, because you get a better idea of how it was from a movie, with more advanced editing, compared to watching it how it was probably performed originally on stage, In conclusion, there are various ways in which the Holinshed Chronicles are adapted to make an entertaining piece of theatre, but in my opinion there are a few key points. Firstly, I think that 'Macbeth' has been so entertaining and successful, because there was already an interesting plot and opportunity to impress the current king. Secondly, Shakespeare's use of iambic pentameter and prose makes the language of the play very interesting and it is clever how the information in Holinshed is twisted, manipulated and made more dramatic to create a very entertaining piece of theatre. John Thompson John Thompson ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in these scenes?

    is giving him a helping hand with the murder, compelling him towards the chamber of Duncan with the dagger in his hand. The dagger is also part of the lexical set of weapons, for example "blade", "dudgeon", which links with the evident theme of violence and horror that Shakespeare creates throughout the scene.

  2. macbeth- appearance vs reality

    For example, he uses the image of a dagger, we know this from what Macbeth says, ''is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee...'' he uses this language to help the audience understand what is going on.

  1. Macbeth Act 2, Scene 1~2, How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in these scenes?

    to say a prayer was thought of as a sign of being bewitched. Shakespeare continues with the idea of Macbeth's emotional turmoil once more, suggested by the use of caesura, which dramatises his erratic thinking and panic. Now, the audience are told he heard a "voice cry 'sleep no more'",

  2. What is the Significance of the Witches in Macbeth?

    Macbeth gets 'taken in' by them and doesn't actually realise that they've betrayed and tricked him until Act 5 Scene 8 - right near the end of the play. However Banquo realises that the witches are equivocating with them almost immediately.

  1. Macbeth was first performed in 1606 in front of King James I at Hampton ...

    Secondly, they were used as a personification of evil for the audiences. This was a symbolic character they could relate with, since the play was written especially for King James I of England, who was also King James VI of Scotland and a staunch believer in and hater of witchcraft.

  2. How would an audience in the time if Shakespeare reacts to the role of ...

    The eye wink at the hand: yet let that be, Which the eye fears when it is done to see." He does this because stars are a form of light and light represents goodness. We now start to think that this maybe the start of Macbeth's evil paths coming to light, it is then that Lady Macbeth is introduced.

  1. What do you find most dramatically effective and interesting about the supernatural in 'Macbeth' ...

    The three witches open the scene with them arguing, creating an atmosphere of hostility and angst around them, just like the stereotypical witch. The three witches soon hear that Macbeth is coming by the sound of drums, the three witches all hold hands and begin to chant, and dance in

  2. Macbeth by William Shakespeare coursework piece:

    These words echo Macbeth's first words in the play, 'So foul and fair a day I have not seen.' The witch's words are in Macbeth's mouth, showing that somehow Macbeth is associated with the witches and their evil. The evil trio further exert their power over Macbeth as they target

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work