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The effect of the Whiches in Macbeth at the time of King James I.

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Macbeth Essay Lewis Stuchbury 11e In 1606, William Shakespeare first performed the play Macbeth to James I, King of the union between England and Scotland. The main reason Shakespeare wrote Macbeth was to warn people of the consequences of trying to harm the King, especially as this was one year after the Gun Power Plot of 1605, where a group of Catholics tried to ill the King by setting up lots of barrels full to the brim of gunpowder under the houses of parliament during a speech by the King. Killing any monarch was obviously a serious offence, but at the time of James I, The 'Chain of Being' existed, which was a belief that a process of 'natural selection' took place where the King was elected by God, and no mortal is higher than he. The belief was the God created the universe, he appointed the King as the Governor of these lands, then the King appointed the nobility, then followed by the Clergy and middle classes, and the peasants were at the bottom of the chain. To upset the chain of being would cause chaos in the land, as the King represented God on Earth. ...read more.


This could also be another look into Macbeth's future, as he soon would join the last Thane of Cawdor in treachery. The witches couple the traitor remark with two additional predictions: "All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! / All hail Macbeth,hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! / All hail Machebth, that shalt be King hereafter!". Banquo, the sceptic of the two, continually discarding the witches' prophecies, when he says "Are ye fantastical, or that indeed / Which outwardly ye show?". This means that Banquo is questioning whether the witches are indeed tangible, or just images in his head. Despite this, Banquo requests a prophecy too, "Speak then tome, who neither beg nor fear / Your favours nor your hate". The witches, conscience of the natural character flaws of men, speak in contradictions to confuse Banquo, telling him that his off-spring will be the future Kings of Scotland. With Banquo now involved in the witches' plot, this ultimately leads to his death by order of the greedy Macbeth who is now his closest friend, but later sees him as a problem in taking over Scotland as his children will be Kings. ...read more.


In my opinion, they only predicted the future once, when they told Macbeth he would be Thane of Cawdor. The other 'prophecies' were implanted in Macbeth's head, and the natural human evil within him performed the treacherous deeds. An example is that he killed Duncan and proclaimed himself king, but not earnt. The reason the witches chose Macbeth was they knew of his ambitions and he could be easily manipulated with the thought of power. William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth because James I (who the play was written for) had a prior experience with his wife-by-proxy and Scottish Witches. On a journey from Denmark to Scotland, James' Wife's ship had to turn around because of bad weather believed to be caused by witches. When James I went to Denmark to return with her, the same bad weather halted their return. When they finally returned, a group of scottish witches were hung for their crimes. In conclusion, the inclusion of the witches was relevant to the Audience and James I as it was a very strong belief at the time that Witches did indeed exist and were affecting their lives. This meant that the audience felt they related to the play in some way, and James I's interest in the matter made in very relevant. ...read more.

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