Friday, July 15, 2011


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By Robert Boulos

The play 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare had many facts changed in order to please, honour and excite King James I. These changes had to be made because of the similarities surrounding Macbeth and James’ home country Scotland. Such comparisons were made between James’ life that inspired Shakespeare to write Macbeth. He wanted King James to be surprised and not to fall asleep, like he would do for most plays. Macbeth not only gave the audience many reasons to think about the theme of the play but also to think of the circumstances surrounding the characters actions. This essay will prove why King James would have been happy with the changes that Shakespeare made and why they were necessary for the play.

At the beginning of Act one Macbeth was considered by Duncan to be noble. No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive our bosom interest go, pronounce his present death, and with his former title greet Macbeth. This quote proves that Macbeth was portrayed as a general who was brave and loyal to not only the king but also his country. It also shows Macbeth’s honour to Duncan but especially Scotland. Shakespeare changed Macbeth’s character to evil because the circumstances around Duncan’s murder were inspired by Denmark’s King Duff’s murder. Stars, hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires. This quote introduces darkness in the story and changes Macbeth into an evil person. Evil is essential to the tragedy of the play as it sets the mood for the story suggesting evil as a cause.

In order to please James, Shakespeare changed the circumstances involving Duncan’s murder and made Macbeth murder Duncan for no motive at all. King James would have agreed with these changes because it showed that nobody would have dared betray the king and conspire with Macbeth against him. He’s here in double trust First, as I am his kinsmen and his subject, strong both against the deed. This quote proves Macbeth showed remorse before killing Duncan. If it were done ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly If the assassination could trammel up the consequence. Shakespeare showed that Macbeth had a guilty conscious and thought about the consequences in order to please King James. Macbeth deliberated six times before killing Duncan. In the original story, Macbeth and Duncan were cousins and had a feud over who deserved to rule Scotland. In the past, one cousin would kill the other to become king. This is why Shakespeare changed Macbeth’s motive because The real Macbeth never felt any guilt towards the deed.

Macbeth was considered as an evil person since Shakespeare wanted James to feel sorry for Duncan. Duncan was portrayed as a good, powerful king who was a victim. Shakespeare gives no clear explanation to Duncan’s murder. Duncan explains the Macbeth’s only motive in this quote. “We will establish our estate upon our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter The Prince of Cumberland. Macbeth’s true intentions are made in his response to hearing the news 'The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’er-leap, for in my way it lies.' Macbeth uses Duncan’s announcement to kill him, this shows his desire to accomplish the deed and get rid of Duncan. This proves that Macbeth wanted to be king at any cost and wasn’t afraid of the consequences that came with his sin. It also shows Macbeth’s ambition to overcome any obstacles in his way to become king. This is the reason why Shakespeare felt it was necessary to make changes that would please King James instead of making him angry.

King James would have been happy with the changes Shakespeare made to the story especially Macbeth’s character in the play because he changed the relationship between Macbeth and Duncan. Also, Shakespeare succeeded in making James happy with the play by giving him images, symbols, themes and keeping him in the dark for any references to any royal ties or to Denmark’s wars or troubles. The most important element that would of pleased James was that William Shakespeare gave him and the audience the chance to see a play about human nature and betrayal that would keep King James guessing about what would happen next. These are the reasons why James would be happy with the changes that Shakespeare made because they were essential to the story.

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