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Macbeth by William Shakespeare - Book Report/Review Example

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Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Mac Bethad mac Findlaich or Macbeth for short in English was a Scottish king (1040-1057) who ruled successfully and wisely after killing his predecessor Duncan (1034-1040), who on the other hand was a weak and terrible leader. Macbeth was killed in 1057 in a battle led at Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire on 15th August against Malcolm, Duncan's rightful heir to the throne. The events that took place shortly before Duncan's murder and until Macbeth's defeat were described in Shakespeare's play "Macbeth" written sometime between 1604 and 1606. ("Mala Enciklopedija Prosveta" Belgrade, 1970, vol.2, p.15).
Having a broad knowledge of Raphael Holinshed's "Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland" (1587), Shakespeare apparently used it as a main source for writing this play. According to Holinshed, Duncan, the king of Scotland was a young and incapable ruler, but Shakespeare deliberately depicted him as an old and almost saint person in order to darken Macbeth's crime even more than it actually was. Shakespeare used this chronicle to write a tragedy, not a historic play. George Buchanan's "History of Scotland in Twenty Books" (2 volumes, 1733) written originally in Latin could have been another source for some scenes in the play. There are also things which must have been products of Shakespeare's fantasy (the scene with the banquet and the appearance of Banquo's ghost or Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking). Some critics even claim certain scenes were influenced by the Roman history, and some give credit to the legends Shakespeare knew so well.
Yet, whatever the sources, "there is no doubt that the tragic status of Macbeth would be far weaker, were it not for the facts given in the Holinshed's chronicle that Duncan was weak, reluctant, indecisive and deserved to be killed and overthrown as a ruler, which on the other hand poses another question, that is, what was that Macbeth accomplished by killing Duncan, was it for the benefit of his country and people or for his own benefit, and was it worth the self-destruction he suffered" (Gzel, B. "Review" ,Shakespeare, W. "Macbeth". Makedonska Kniga, 1981. p.137).
What is of a very big importance for the first production of the play is the period when Shakespeare wrote "Macbeth", which would be after 1603 and before 1610, probably 1605-6, after the accession of King James I. It seems that "Macbeth" was written especially to be performed for the King himself, as King James I (who was already King James VI of Scotland when Queen Elizabeth died) was obsessed with witchcraft and he himself wrote a book "Demonology" about the hidden world of the wicked witches. Through "Macbeth" and the witches that symbolize Macbeth's conscience and cosmic dark forces, meaning that the Devil coexists with God, probably Shakespeare wanted to describe human stupidity on one hand, and on the other, they may symbolize different cultural heritage and customs with which King James wished to unite the people against any enemy. "Macbeth" is one of the shortest plays maybe just because King James I hated long plays. For the first time Macbeth was performed in 1606 in front of King James I at Hampton Court. The decoration was full of candles probably to create both tension and a ...Show more


All interpretations of Macbeth since its first production up to the present days have had one single purpose: to see the play from its objective side, that is, to bring it into accord with the times of its creation and throughout the four hundred years of its existence with the present times…
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