Discussion of William Shakespeare's Macbeth
Written around 1606, 'Macbeth' is regarded as a generous tribute to
the current monarch at the time, King James I. In 1603, the first year
of his reign , King James privileged Shakespeare's theatre company,
above all others, to be the King's Men. Shakespeare's theatre company
was extremely honoured by the title and 'Macbeth' was written in an
attempt at expressing Shakespeare's gratitude.
Before he was King James I of England, he was King James VI of
Scotland. Therefore, as a tribute play it would make sense to set the
play in Scotland. It also seems appropriate that this play features
witches and witchcraft. King James loathed witches and women, so
Shakespeare displayed negative images of women, through the three
witches and Lady Macbeth, mainly by illustrating their ability to
control and manipulate men.
Regicide and political murders are crucial to this play, so are they
prominent in the life of King James too as a serious attempt at his
life was taken in 1605 with Guy Fawkes' gunpowder plot, to blow up the
Parliament with King James inside it. The play would also appeal to
the society at the time as there was anxiety about killing the King.
Shakespeare also explores the topic of kingship and loyalty. They were
of great importance to King James. His father, Lord Darnley was
murdered and his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, had been executed as a
traitor. Hence, inquiries of the role of a monarch were always on his
Other possible intentions include showing the fight between good and
evil, showing the relationships between humans and the supernatural,
exploring the psychology of ambition and the implications of someone
being driven into an inevitable doom.
In the start of the play, Macbeth, Thane of Glamis achieves Thane of
Cawdor through his unparalleled bravery and prowess in a recent war to
squelch a rebellion led in part by the traitorous Thane of Cawdor.
This causes the audience's first impressions of Macbeth to be fairly
optimistic, because we admire and have a high regard for people who
fight so heroically in the name of the King. But, when Macbeth informs
his wife of the witches prophecies, and she concludes that they should
murder King Duncan, he refuses to do so. The audience would certainly
appreciate such loyalty and we will like him further. Nevertheless,
Lady Macbeth convinces him to go through with it and after he has
murdered Duncan the audience's liking for Macbeth would reduce
enormously. When Macbeth fears the consequences and regrets what he
has done, we feel slightly sympathetic towards him and our view of him
becomes slightly more positive than straight after the murder. Macbeth
succeeds the Throne, but the audience does not respect and value him
like the good King Duncan, instead we hate him and...