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The play 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare is possibly one of the most influential plays or texts in the history of literature or theatre.

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Introduction

Macbeth Essay The play 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare is possibly one of the most influential plays or texts in the history of literature or theatre. Countless adaptations have been staged and screened since its original writing in 1606 and it has influenced other plays and films which have adopted the similar theme and even story of betrayal, the supernatural and the curse this bears. With the relevance Macbeth still holds today it is easy to forget that it was a product of it's times and audience as all literature is. When Macbeth was written in 1606 the King was James I (VI of Scotland) he had only been King of England for three years and already a major assassination attempt had been uncovered. This was the 'Gunpowder Plot' of 1605 when Guy Fawkes and several other Catholic sympathisers tried to assassinate the King by blowing up the houses of parliament while the King was opening it. What made this attempt all the more significant for James was the fact that many well respected men with knighthoods were embroiled in it. This did nothing but harden James' fear of regicide against himself, which was already verging on full-scale paranoia. James was also fascinated by witchcraft and wrote 'Daemonologie' a book on witchcraft including their powers and what they plotted to do. On returning from Denmark he had 300 witches and several Scottish Lords arrested for plotting his murder. This kind of obsession was indicative of James' philosophy towards life he was an intelligent man who enjoyed art, drama and literature and yet he was notoriously paranoid due to his upbringing, the murder of his father Lord Darnley and the notorious treachery of the Scottish court. ...read more.

Middle

The ghost appears and sits in Macbeth's place at a banquet with his lords. Macbeth reacts with shock as would be expected, saying 'Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake thy gory locks at me.' I believe the ghost appears for a number of reasons. Firstly this would have been another shock to the audience who believed that the ghost of a murdered person would return to get revenge on his murderer. The second I believe is because Banquo is almost a spokesman for the audience throughout his life. When the witches' prophecies come true he says 'What can the devil speak true?' a question that the audience of the time would be likely to raise. He also is the first to talk of Macbeth 'playing foul' to become king. In death he is doing this as well getting revenge on Macbeth on behalf of the audience for his misdemeanours. The third reason is that the appearance of the ghost is a turning point in the play. Macbeth up until this point had been relatively secure as king. After the appearance of Banquo's ghost his mental state begins to go downhill. He descends almost into madness putting faith in the witches' prophecies and going to see them. His lords also begin to doubt him after the appearance of the ghost and start to desert him for Malcolm and Donalbain. This is another example of the way the supernatural changes the course of the play. This time however the change in the plot is included to show the reality of the supernatural and its effects on people. The appearance of the ghost is the beginning of Macbeth's downfall and so it shows how ghosts and supernatural happenings can change the course of people's lives. ...read more.

Conclusion

She taunts him and is responsible for Macbeth acting the way he does. This treachery against her duty which in those times would be to listen to her husband and comfort him, not taunt and drive him towards acts of treachery. The story of Macbeth is one that endures time and to future generations of schoolchildren's dismay will carry on doing so. It is however a profound reflection of the time commenting on issues that would have been widely discussed in James' court and beyond. The major exhibit of this trait is the running theme of the supernatural throughout the play. Macbeth was written at a time when people's belief in supernatural occurrences and beings was at a peak. The King himself was obsessed by the idea of witchcraft and demons. It also comments on treachery against the king and the disruption of 'the natural order' which stems from belief in the divine right of kings which was widespread at this time. This would have rung home with James who so nearly shared Duncan's fate in the gunpowder plot of 1605. However as Vincent Vega would say it's the little things you notice. Such as the addition of certain subjects in the plot that would have interested James. For instance the fact that Banquo is shown to be the founder of the Stewart dynasty, of which James was the eighth king. Also one of the Thanes is called Lenox which is the same name as James' great friend advisor and supposed sexual partner from his days in Scotland. It must be said however that although the subject matter is mostly of interest to those living in the Stuart era and reflects it's time. The skill with which Macbeth is written and the turns of the plot means that Macbeth is a story which will endure in many forms for many years to come. ...read more.

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