William Shakespeare’s Macbeth Essay

1177 words - 5 pages

Movies and screenplays are often said to be based on a true story. William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is an example of a screenplay that is assumed to be based on a true story but is actually just historic character’s names being used in a brand new story. From the characters, setting, and events all seem to be completely fictional.
William Shakespeare’s Macbeth contradicts the historic account of the actual people in Macbeth’s time as king. Some examples of character’s whose events in Macbeth and the actual historical accounts are Macbeth, Malcolm, and the three witches. In Macbeth, Macbeth was a tyrant king and was despised by many as shown in this quote: “Not in the legions/ Of horrid Hell can come a devil more damned/ In evils to top Macbeth (55-57 Scene iii, Act 4).” While in historic accounts Macbeth was a true king who brought prosperity unto Scotland as shown in this excerpt: “For 17 years, life was peaceful and prosperous as Macbeth ruled with an even hand and encouraged the spread of Christianity (A&E television network).” This quote shows how good of a man Macbeth really was and not how Macbeth shows Macbeth to be, a traitorous king. The next character Macbeth contradicts is Malcolm. In Macbeth, Malcolm is shown to be one of the courageous leaders that overthrew Macbeth as shown in this quote: “Be comforted. /Let’s make us med ’cines of our great revenge, /To cure this deadly grief (213-215 Scene iii, Act 4).” But in historical context he did battle Macbeth but with Siward, earl of Northumbria, instead of Macduff and he fought Macbeth for revenge of Macbeth’s defeat of his father, Duncan. These actions are shown in this quote: “Siward, earl of Northumbria, accompanied by Malcolm, led an army north into Scotland (A&E television network).” This quote proves Malcolm had his own agenda, for power and revenge, instead of just stopping the “tyrant” Macbeth. Lastly, we have the three witches. In Macbeth there are witches who tell prophecies to Macbeth to influence him into making bad decisions. This behavior by the witches is characterized by this quote: “I’ll drain him dry as hay: / Sleep shall neither night nor day/ Hang upon his penthouse lid; /He shall live a man forbid (18-21 Scene iii, Act 1).” In the world however there are no such thing as magic or fortune telling. In Scotland however, there are legends of witchcraft around this medieval Scotland time period: “… Medieval Scotland maintained a belief in witches, including their ability to make prophecies and to affect the outcome of certain events (Gale).” This could have been why Shakespeare added witches to the play, for tradition. Also, he could have done it to enhance the play and help move the plot forward in Macbeth. In the end, Shakespeare uses characters of medieval Scotland but gives these characters false stories and backgrounds. While stretching the truth might make for a good play it also helps the viewer’s get a false history lesson on these otherwise great...

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