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Not only is Macbeth the main character in William Shakespeare's Macbeth, but he is also one in the history of Scotland.

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Introduction

Not only is Macbeth the main character in William Shakespeare's Macbeth, but he is also one in the history of Scotland. Macbeth is certainly not the only play with historical themes that is full of inventions. Macbeth represents a human of ambition, guilt and most of all, different degrees of loyalty as he takes on different roles. Despite his deficiencies of proper values and "vaulting ambition," Macbeth is a character who seems infinitely real to audience members. Shakespeare's version uses several similar characteristics and events that the real Macbeth experienced. However, there are quite a few modifications to the character of Macbeth and the incidents he encounters. Shakespeare tends to choose what parts of history he prefers, and alters them to create his edition of Macbeth as a family member, a subject to the king, a king, a friend and as a person. By changing and/or keeping parts of history, Macbeth's character becomes an interesting one to analyse. Macbeth is a basically good man who is troubled by his conscience and loyalty though at the same time ambitious and murderous. The Macbeth of Scottish history shares the same commitment to family members, as does the Shakespeare's adaptation of the character. ...read more.

Middle

(I, 1 line 9). History illustrates to us that Macbeth had a relatively long and fair seventeen year reign. Obviously Shakespeare did not want to use this decent attribute that the real Macbeth possessed. This is due to the fact that Banquo and the line of Stewarts is to be favoured by viewer, especially King James. Therefore, Shakespeare constructed Macbeth to be despised by King James (as it was first performed to him), as he was part of the Stewart dynasty. So in creating a character that appears mad after the death of a friend and 'unmanly' to an important family member, Macbeth is thought of as an unfit king by many. Among these is his wife, "Yet I do fear thy nature: It is too full o'the milk of human kindness..." (I, 5 line 15). Which provokes one think 'isn't a king meant to be one full of "human kindness"?' Therefore the obligation Macbeth holds towards his family is manipulated to bring down Macbeth's role as king. History however differs from this disapproving attitude towards Macbeth as king. Friendship in modern society is very highly respected. It is from this that viewers can judge Macbeth as a friend to Banquo. ...read more.

Conclusion

From history he has a certain boldness to him that is admired by many (www.shakespeare.com/faq/faq37.php). However, the modified Macbeth of Shakespeare does not have this heroic quality (whether a flaw or perfection) when it comes to such conflict. This Macbeth cannot be faced with the direct guilt of taking the lives of innocent associates, so he sends murderers to do the dirty deed. As a result, he will "Be innocent of the knowledge..." (III, 2 line 45) and the fault will be temporarily diverted from himself. So as a person, Macbeth is on two opposite poles of the bargain, which is both bold (in history) and fearful (in the play). Analysis of Macbeth winds a complicated web of textual history, comprising of consistent and imitative historical reports. William Shakespeare's version Macbeth seems to be one of the many thugs in a society in which power is gained and maintained by killing other thugs, and where loyalty is at best provisional (Ed Friedlander, M.D, www.pathguy.com/macbeth.htm). The Macbeth taken from Scottish history both challenges and agrees with this statement. The historical Macbeth shares the same extent of loyalty and ambition, but also has a great deal more of heroic 'blood' in him. By comparing the two Macbeth's, he is accepted as a decent being who is disturbed by his ethics and devotion, though at the same time determined and guilty. ...read more.

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