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How Does Shakespeare Present the Theme of Kingship in 'Macbeth'?

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How Does Shakespeare Present the Theme of Kingship in 'Macbeth'? The play 'Macbeth' is set in Medieval Scotland at the fictional time of King Duncan. The play is based on a true story but re-written and adapted for King James, the reigning King at the time, who was very interested in witchcraft. The play starts following Scotland's triumph over the Norwegians, Macbeth and Banquo stumble across three old hags who proclaim that they can "Look into the seeds of time and predict which grain shall grow and which shall not". It is here that the witches prognosticate that Macbeth shall become King and Banquo "Shalt get kings, though thou be none". This startles Macbeth and his hunger for power augments to such an extent that he and his wife, Lady Macbeth, plot to murder the honourable King Duncan whilst he is staying in Macbeth's castle. This is an enormous sin for any member of society, however Macbeth has just been appointed Thane of Cawdor and is Duncan's host, which therefore means that he should be Duncan's protector, not his murderer. However, a belief at the time was that the King was elected by God and was supported by the forces of heaven and that to murder a King was the greatest of all crimes. ...read more.


The owl however, habitually catches mice on the ground. Nevertheless, in this circumstance the owl flew upwards and killed the falcon. I think that the characteristics of these creatures can be comparable to Duncan and Macbeth. This is because a falcon is a day creature and a royal companion, while the owl is an untameable bird of night and death. Therefore I think that King Duncan can be likened to the falcon and Macbeth, to the owl. Another time when animals have reacted to an event is King Duncan's horses. "Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race tuned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out. Contending 'gainst obedience, as they would make war with mankind." This is very similar to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth inasmuch as both were Duncan's minions to whom he trusted and showered them with gratuity and reverence. But both disobeyed him, turned wild and made war on their leader. It is also insinuated that the heavens are apprehensive about the inescapable Kingship of Macbeth. "Seest the heavens, as troubled with man's act" It is at this moment in the play that everyone has recognised that Macbeth cannot fulfil his predecessor's duty. Whilst Scotland is under Macbeth's reign of tyranny he massacres many virtuous people as he is fearful of their or their close relatives potential greatness. ...read more.


However there is one character in Macbeth that appears untainted, nevertheless in real life his character is far from blameless. This is the honourable Banquo, to whom in the play Macbeth is jealous of. "In his royalty of nature reigns that which would be fear'd" Here Macbeth is saying how Banquo has a natural nobility of character, and that is admirable in a person. Yet Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' is an adaptation of a true story, written for King James I, to whom he was a descendant of Banquo. In the true story Banquo accompanied Macbeth in assassinating Duncan. But evidently it would have been discourteous for Macbeth to insinuate that James I descended from a regicide. Therefore for political reasons Shakespeare modified the story line so as not to displease James I. Another issue Shakespeare had to overcome was how to delineate the assassination of Duncan, considering this to would be inappropriate to stage in front of the King, as once again this could be very abhorrent. Consequently to resolve this quandary Duncan's murder takes place offstage. From this play there are many messages that Shakespeare tries to portray to his readers. One of them being that in becoming too obsessive of power and fearful of the future one will loose many more assets than gained. However the most poignant being that obsessive power or ambition not achieved through our own abilities is fated to lead to total disaster, which in Macbeth's case was death. 1 1 ...read more.

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