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William Shakespeare who had already written numerous plays on the subject of kingship wrote Macbeth in 1605/6.

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Introduction

Edward Shrager English coursework - 14th December 2003 William Shakespeare who had already written numerous plays on the subject of kingship wrote Macbeth in 1605/6. This play is a tragedy, much like that of Hamlet, which depicts the murder of a King and all the consequences that follow such a crime. This play was performed before King James VI of Scotland, I of Great Britain, who came to the English throne in 1603. There are all sorts of issues that can be drawn from this fact such as, King James had a fascination with witchcraft, which suggests that Macbeth might have been centred around witches to please the King. Shakespeare spent a lot of his time writing about Kings, especially English ones. The quotation is from Act IV, iii where Malcolm, son of Duncan, is testing Macduff to see whether he is a traitor or not and then, once it is established that Macduff is on Malcolm's side, they start to plan how they are going to fight Macbeth. The quotation is a list of qualities that Malcolm says a King should have. Then he goes on to say that he has none of these qualities, but this is all part of the trickery he is playing on Macduff. Malcolm knows that Macduff is truthful to him because Malcolm says that he would not have one tyrant, Macbeth, replaced with another, Malcolm, which shows that Macduff is loyal to Scotland, therefore Malcolm, the rightful King, and not Macbeth. "Fit to govern! No, not to live! O nation miserable, With an untitled tyrant" (Act IV, iii, 103-105) This is the quotation with which Macduff proves to Malcolm his loyalty to him and not Macbeth. Our first encounter with a King in Macbeth is Duncan. The scene is that of a battlefield and the King is directed towards the Captain who is asked to give a report of the victory. ...read more.

Middle

He tells Lady Macbeth of his spy in Macduff's household, and in the same speech gives Lady Macbeth the impression that he will have Macduff's family murdered: "I hear it by the way. But I will send. There's not one of them, but in his house I keep a servant fee'd." (Act III, iv, 129-131) The last line of this quotation shows us that he bribes a servant to spy on Macduff's house. And further on in this speech Macbeth gives the reference of murdering Macduff's family: "I am in blood Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as to go'er" (Act III, iv, 134-137) Macbeth also murders Young Seyward in battle, which also shows Macbeth's lack of mercy. Even if Macbeth kills Young Seyward in battle, Macbeth is still killing a child, which does not show mercy. Macbeth not having any of these qualities, verity, temperance, stableness or mercy, denies the claim of Malcolm's that a King should have the virtues listed in the extract. Macbeth, on the other hand, does have lowliness. His attitude does change throughout the play from good to evil and it is when he is acting as a good person that he has lowliness. He admits that he is wrong several times after he kills Duncan: "Whence is that knocking? How is't with me when every noise appals me? What hands are here! Ha-they pluck out mine eyes! Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red." (Act II, ii, 57-63) Macbeth says that his hands are stained with the blood of Duncan, but what he really means is that Macbeth is now stained with the murder of Duncan and he will never be able to wash it from him even with all of God's will and forgiveness. ...read more.

Conclusion

Being a holy King is a good thing but the King must be able to find a dynasty and rule his people to guarantee their greater happiness. In that way, Edward is a really holy and religious King, which is a good thing to be, as well as others, but this quality is not on the list. The following is a quotation from Macbeth that gives a direct reference to Edward, King of England at the time. "There are a crew of wretched souls That stay his cure. Their maladies convinces The great assay of art; but at his touch, Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand, They presently amend." (Act IV, iii, 141-145) In this way, Macbeth demonstrates to the audience that it is good to be a holy King, along with other merits, but this quality is not on the list so it shows that Macbeth is denying the claim because there are other qualities that a King should have other than those that Malcolm states. Using all of this analysis of the play, Macbeth, I can come to the conclusion that Macbeth denies the claim made by Malcolm. Malcolm says, in this quotation, that a King should have the qualities that he lists. The Kings in Macbeth do have all of the qualities he lists between them but they also have other qualities that are important to being a King and there are also other qualities that the Kings do not have and that aren't listed that I think a king should have, such as intelligence and being religious. Some people might say that because the Kings in Macbeth do have the qualities described in the extract that Macbeth supports the claim. This is, however, wrong in my opinion because the Kings, in Macbeth, have other qualities that a suitable King should have that need to be thought of in answering this question and, as I have said, there are other virtues a King should have to rule a kingdom. ...read more.

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