Macbeth – Scotland’s Most Dastardly King?


Shakespeare drew loosely from historical accounts about King Macbeth of Scotland for his play Macbeth. Early in the play Macbeth, who is a general in King Duncan of Scotland’s army is told by Three Witches that he will one day be king. Lady Macbeth hatches a plot to murder Duncan so her husband can claim the throne for himself. Macbeth kills Duncan but is overcome with so much emotion that Lady Macbeth must take control of the situation. She accuses their guards, whom Macbeth murders immediately raising the suspicions of Macduff, the loyal Thane of Fife. Fearing for their lives, Duncan’s sons Malcolm and Donalbain flee to England and Ireland, and Macbeth assumes the throne. Macbeth has his friend General Banquo murdered because he thinks that he may prove a threat, later Banquo’s ghost haunts Macbeth during a feast. Macbeth murders all in Macduff’s household including the women and children while Macduff is in exile in England. Lady Macbeth breaks down with guilt and begins wandering the halls at night raving. Macduff and Malcolm invade, with Macduff killing Macbeth. Down to today, many actors judge the play to be cursed and will not even mention it by name, instead preferring to refer to it as ’The Scottish Play’ or ‘MacBee’. Shakespeare wrote the play for his new patron, James I of England & VI of Scotland following the death of Queen Elizabeth. James was interested in witchcraft and Scotland, hence the prevalent themes in the play. The play is quite difficult to understand on first reading due to an abundance of obscure allusions and quirks of language.

Source by Russell Shortt