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Macbeth Background And Theme

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"It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature." - Ernest Hemingway

William Shakespeare's Macbeth epitomizes Hemingway's premise because it was written amid many historical phenomena. The historical happenings that surround the play are commonly found to be indispensable to the importance of the play itself. There are three main reasons, in my opinion, that christen Macbeth a great accolade for Shakespeare. The first is that he was able to master multiple historical stories and events in order to create one complex classic drama. The second is that his historical sources were somewhat flawed, which forced Shakespeare to "heighten the dramatic effect" (1) of the overall historical story, i.e. the dramatic account of the murder of Duncan; and therefore he creatively created an original dramatic story that also effectively addressed the political topics of the time. Finally, the third is that he took an originally 11th century and made it relevant to 17th century political events.

One of the main historical events of which Shakespeare made use was the actual story of the historical figure Macbeth, set in the 11th century around the time of the Norman Conquest. He originally became king of Scotland in 1040 following the murder of Duncan. Ironically, seventeen years later, Duncan's son Malcolm removed Macbeth from power, which was generally common in the Dark Ages.

One of the main political events under which Macbeth was formed involved King James I. The conspiracy to assassinate James and his family took place in 1605 with a group of Catholic revolutionaries. This event applied directly to the developing plot of Macbeth and demonstrates Shakespeare's ability to twist historical events in order to create a dramatic rendition of them.



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