Historical MacBeth compared to Shakespeare’s MacBeth
Although most of Shakespeare’s play ” MacBeth ” is not historically
accurate,
MacBeth’s life is the subject of the tragedy. There are characters
and events
that are based on true events and real persons but, Shakespeare’s
“MacBeth
” differs significantly from history’s MacBeth.
The first example of a difference
between the Shakespeare “MacBeth” and
historical MacBeth is the death of Duncan
I. In Shakespeare’s ” MacBeth “,
Duncan I was murdered by MacBeth. A prophecy
said to MacBeth by one of the
three witches “All hail, MacBeth, that shalt
be King hereafter1 .” was what
prompted Gruoch, MacBeth’s wife to plot the
murder of Duncan I as he slept
in their castle. In history, MacBeth established
himself as the King of
Scots after killing his cousin Duncan I, in battle near
Elgin not as in
Shakespeare’s play by killing him in his sleep. Duncan I was
killed on August
14, 1040. MacBeth then reigned as king for seventeen years.


As
previously stated Duncan I and MacBeth were cousins, a fact not
brought out
in the play. Shakespeare loosely based the play,” MacBeth ” on
events he found
in Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and
Ireland. ” Raphael
Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland,
are the materials
that furnished Shakespeare with his plot2. The chronicles
were an account of
the history of the country of which they came from.
Another major difference,
is that Duncan I was not the ageing and
respected king Shakespeare makes him
out to be, In real life, Fiona Summerset
Fry author of History of
Scotland
says ” He was actually an impetuous and spoilt young man whose six
years of
kingship brought glory neither to Scotland nor
to his family3.”
In the play’s
last scene, McDuff kills MacBeth and automatically becomes
the new King of
Scots. In actual history MacBeth is killed by Malcom III
but Lulach, MacBeth’s
stepson, becomes the king after the noblemen of Moray
fight for his succession.

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Lulach reigned for seven months and was then
dethroned by Malcom III of Caenmore.

MacBeth
is presented in the play as clumsy and unorganised. In reality
though, he
was one of the best kings that Scotland ever had. ” During his
reign, he went
on a pilgrimage to Rome for several months4.” His kingdom was
in well enough
order and he was in high enough regard with his nobleman that
he could leave
for a long period of time. Another way you could tell that
MacBeth was a good
king because, ” He organized troops of men to patrol the
wilder countryside
and enforce some type of law and order5.” As far as
historians know, this was
the first type of law and order in Scotland before
1100.

Shakespeare had
financial and political motivation to change some of the
historical facts.

In order for him to receive payment for his writing it was
necessary for him
to impress King James I. Shakespeare also changed the name
of his acting company
to the ” Kings men,” because he wanted to establish
himself as a better writer.

He could do this by having the King’s influence.


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