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The History and Background behind Macbeth
Transcript of The History and Background behind Macbeth
on Shakespeare himself!
Behind every great man is a great woman (Every great man is supported, guided, helped, and even pushed by a great woman)
First, what do YOU think?
There is such a thing as fate
Shakespeare's Inspiration and Thoughts for the Tragic Play
Shakespeare wrote the play for James I, England's new king, who had been king of Scotland. To please James, Shakespeare set the play in Scotland, used many characters who were James' ancestors, and included witches, a subject that James had written about. The play is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy, probably because King James often fell asleep during performances.
Witches, demons, and evil spirits actually exist
Sometimes it is necessary to do something wrong to get what you want
What goes around comes around (karma)
Human beings are easily tempted by things they want, even if it's wrong
There are circumstances or events that justify murdering someone
Success is worth any price you have to pay
Your astrological forecast, your horoscope, is a good indicator of how your day will go
We owe something to other human beings in our lives
Traitors should be executed
Shakespeare's source for the story of
was The History and Chronicles of Scotland (1526), written by Hector Boece, a Scottish historian and humanist. (Many scholars question the factual reliability of Boece's work, and point out that Shakespeare took liberties with
's history for dramatic purposes.)
The King of England in 1606 was James I, a Stuart.
There was no successor to the throne of England. Therefore, Elizabeth I chose James VI of Scotland to succeed her. After her death in 1603, James VI of Scotland became James I of England (the guy has TWO titles!)
Why did she pick this guy? Elizabeth I had been instrumental in the death of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who was beheaded.
On her deathbed, Elizabeth wanted to ease her way into Heaven, so she chose Mary’s son James to become the next King of England
The appointment of James I was a good political move, unifying England and Scotland under one King.
So, who is this guy,King James I?
RECAP: Macbeth, a tribute to King James I
Important inspirations for the play to re
Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606, d
uring King James’ reign.
The setting of the play is in Scotland, K
ing James’ homeland.
Banquo was an ancestor of James I an
d is also a character in the
play and shown to be a virtuous person
James believed himself to be an expert
Scotland in the 1600s, when Shakespeare WROTE the play
Scotland in Medieval Times
: an appeal to Elizabethan people’s interests as well as the kings!
When Queen Elizabeth ruled, people of England were referred to as Elizabethans.
In the play,
, Shakespeare demonstrated the Elizabethan belief that the country is stable
if the King is good and virtuous.
Elizabethans believed that evil occurs in darkness, which is a recurring theme in
Shakespeare also included a lot of blood and murder, which the Elizabethans expected to see in a play.
The play was considered a thriller – a threat to
a King and the perceived evil behind the threat
When the play begins, there are two wars in progress:
Civil War - King Duncan vs. Macdonwald’s rebels
National War - Scotland, led by King Duncan, against invading Norway, led by King Sweno
the play itself
At the start of the play, King Duncan is the King of Scotland.
The play takes place in Scotland during Medieval times, which is specifically the 11th century, or 1000-1099 (woah! That's old!)
Main Plot Summary of Macbeth
Characters to Know:
Macbeth: The main guy! Brave general under Duncan who becomes too ambitious after three witches prophesize that he will be King of Scotland. He turns to evil, killing the King, the guards, Banquo, and others.
Lady Macbeth: Vicious wife of Macbeth, even more ambitious than Macbeth. She convinces Macbeth to murder the King. Later, she becomes insane from her wrongdoings.
The Witches: They tell Macbeth that he is to become King, leading him to evil. They also tell him that he will be defeated, but they disguise it in a way as to give him false confidence.
Banquo: Macbeth’s friend and general, suspected Macbeth of killing the King. He is killed by murderers sent by Macbeth, though his son (Fleance) escapes.
King Duncan: King of Scotland, murdered by Macbeth who was one of his generals whom he had just promoted.
Macduff: general, believes that Macbeth killed the King. His family is murdered by Macbeth; could fulfill witches' prophecy
Malcolm: Duncan’s eldest son, runs away to England after he learns of his father’s murder in order to escape the same fate.
Macbeth as the Tragic Hero
What is a tragic hero?
The tragic hero is a man of noble stature. He is not an ordinary man, but a man with outstanding quality and greatness about him. He is destined for downfall, suffering, or defeat. His own destruction is for a greater cause or principle.
So, to recap: common characteristics of a tragic hero:
# Usually of noble birth
# Posseses hamartia - a.k.a. the tragic flaw that eventually leads to his downfall.
# Undergoes peripeteia - a reversal of fortune brought about by the hero's tragic flaw
# His actions result in an increase of self- awareness and self-knowledge
# The audience must feel pity and fear for this character.
Only with the tragic hero's death can the order in nature and society restored.
*Fair and foul – To the Weird Sisters what is ugly is beautiful, and what is beautiful is ugly. Throughout the play, fair appearances hide foul realities
*Equivocation – To equivocate is to lie by saying something that sounds fair, but which has a hidden, foul meaning
*Nature and the unnatural – In Macbeth the word “nature” usually refers to human nature.The whole play is about Macbeth’s unnaturalness.
Blood Kingship Heaven and Hell
Sight, Light, Darkness, and Blindness Ambition
Babies and children Fate and Free Will Appearance and Reality
Birds Desire for Power Use/Misuse of Power
Themes and Motifs
SO, where are we exactly???
Scotland in Medieval times, when he SET the play
not too shabby, huh?