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Macbeth: Truth Vs Fiction Essay

1832 words - 7 pages

William Shakespeare altered history for his play, Macbeth, to flatter King James. There are several big differences between Shakespeare’s version of Macbeth and the true history of Macbeth and Banquo. In the true history of Macbeth, Banquo was a traitor to King Duncan. In Shakespeare’s version of Macbeth he made Banquo loyal to King Duncan. Shakespeare altered history to flatter King James. Shakespeare also changed history to not only flatter King James but to avoid the consequences of offending the king. William Shakespeare altered Banquo’s history to compliment King James.
In the true history of Macbeth, Banquo was a traitor to King Duncan. There are many differences between this history of Macbeth and Banquo and Shakespeare’s version of these two figures. One major difference is how King Duncan dies. In history King Duncan died in a different way than William Shakespeare proposed. As written in “Macbeth (c.1005 – 1057)”, “In August 1040, [Macbeth] killed the ruling king, Duncan I, in battle near Elgin, Morayshire” (1). Shakespeare changed history in his play by saying Macbeth killed Duncan in his own room, not in battle. Another way Shakespeare also portrayed Macbeth differently from his true character was his right to the throne. As written in “English Background”, “Macbeth was a real eleventh century Scottish king, but the historical Macbeth, who had a valid right to the throne, reigned capably in Scotland from 1040 till 1057” (1). William Shakespeare showed in his play that Malcolm succeeded Duncan, but in history Macbeth truly succeeded Duncan. Duncan and Macbeth were cousins, grandsons of King Malcolm II. Shakespeare portrayed Duncan as a respected elderly character. However, it is written in “English Background”, “but the real Duncan was a weak man, around Macbeth's own age, not the respected elderly figure we meet in the play” (1).Shakespeare made Duncan this well-respected character in his play to make his death such a tragedy. This made Macbeth look even worse since the king was well-respected and loved by his people. Not only did Shakespeare change Macbeth’s history, but also Banquo’s. William Shakespeare stole his character of Banquo from Holinshed’s chronicles. This story portrayed Banquo as a traitor that helped Macbeth kill Duncan. Shakespeare thought this would offend King James so he made Banquo loyal in his play. As written in “English Background”, “As a tribute to the Stuarts, and James in particular, Shakespeare presents Banquo as a wise, noble and regal figure who arouses jealousy in Macbeth as much for his own good qualities as for the promise the witches make to him of founding a dynasty” (1). Shakespeare showing the witches in his play prophesising that Banquo would have a long-lasting ruling family which flattered King James. Shakespeare was also worried about offending the king and wanted to avoid the consequences of portraying his ancestor as a traitor. In history, Banquo was not a loyal...

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