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Ambition And Death - The Story Of The Renaissance In Macbeth

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Ambition and death - the story of the Renaissance in Macbeth

In the tragic drama Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare in 1606 during the English Renaissance, the hero, Macbeth, constantly declines in his level of morality until his death at the end of the play. Because of his change of character from good to evil, Macbeth's attitude towards other characters, specifically Duncan, Banquo, Lady Macbeth, and the witches, is significantly affected." In a larger sense, the theme of bad versus good kingship, embodied by Macbeth and Duncan, respectively, would have resonated at the royal court, where James was busy developing his English version of the theory of divine right. "The main point of this paper is to discuss the historical Context in which William Shakespeare's Macbeth was written, which is the Renaissance and the characteristics related to this period that you can find in the play.

During the British Renaissance, in the period beginning in around 1500 and lasting until the mid-1600s. The main point of transformation was in the literature and in the language, when it moves from the medieval Middle English literature period and into the more modern Elizabethan literature. "The period is characterized by the influence of the classics (in literature, language, and philosophy), as well as an optimistic forward-thinking approach to the potential of humans, known as Renaissance humanism." The concepts of the Renaissance were seen not only in literature, but also in art and architecture. "In literary terms, the study of the classical poets led not only to their translation into English but the adaptation of their verse forms and systems of poetical metre, as well as the embracing of their themes and genres." Also during this period, the development of printing press took the country to a communication revolution and helped to spread literature in general. Another important fact of access of literature was the great navigations started by Italy, where the spread of Protestantism in Europe was influential on literature and everyday life.

The Divine Right of Kings is a European political and religious doctrine of political absolutism based on contemporary Christian belief that "a monarch owed his rule to the will of God, not to the will of his subjects, parliament, the aristocracy or any other competing authority." This doctrine continued with the demand that any attempt to depose a monarch or to restrict his powers ran contrary to the will of God. This was important to establish the authority of the kings at that time, and this declaration is what the king James was adapting when Shakespeare was writing his play Macbeth. This fact is very important to analyze, because on the play you can see Macbeth struggling with his own conscience after the witches' prediction telling him he was going to be king. But in fact, Macbeth was supposed to kill the current king to get his throne, and this wasn't the normal course of things. That's one of the main characteristics of Renaissance that can be seen on the play, and also the main conflict on Macbeth's mind "who should be the rightful monarch?" and the fact that after he murders the king he has to pay the consequences of his acts to bring normality to the natural world because he wasn't destined to be king.

Another important issue dealing Renaissance characteristics in the play is the gender issue and the relation between the Renaissance family and the concepts of family represented by Shakespeare in Macbeth. The family was a key institution during the Renaissance, especially because of the concepts of family designed by Church at that time, so the role of marriage and a patriarchal leading family was very important at that time. This characteristic is very important in the play, because Macbeth and his wife are the central characters of the tragedy and they are treated with some irony. "As an institution central to the Renaissance concept of order, the family and the gender distinctions it encourages also become important to Shakespeare's exploration of the ironies and paradoxes inherent in a system that professes to value the husband and wife as a co-operative unit while at the same time encouraging the subjugation of the woman to the man." Macbeth at first isn't ready to kill the king and make what is predicted by the witches and the will of his wife and because of that, Lady Macbeth was a much stronger character who gives her husband the strength to make him become king. In a very interesting scene, Lady Macbeth asks for herself more masculinity, eliminating the feminine principles, to get the power to help her husband fulfill his will. This characteristic is very well established when she asks to her milk to be taken as gall.

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