William Shakespeare's Macbeth
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. The Captain does so and
tells the King of the bravery and valour that Macbeth had shown.
"For brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name" (Act I, i, 16)
Duncan then proceeds to give the title of Thane of Cawdor to Macbeth
after the previous Thane had died during battle. This shows bounty in
Duncan because he is giving out a reward to the correct man seeming as
Macbeth had fought well in the fight and deserved the reward. Duncan
also shows devotion to his people in this scene. At the end of the
scene after the Captain had finished his report, because he was
injured, Duncan tells his attendants to go and find medical help for
"They smack of honour both. Go get him surgeons." (Act I, i, 45)
Another show of this devotion comes at the end of Act I, iv where he
is commending Banquo.
"True, worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant,
And in his commendations I am fed;
It is a banquet to me. Let's after him
Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome.
It is a peerless kinsman." (Act I, iv, 55-59)
Duncan also has...