Mac Bethad mac Findlaich became king of the Scots after Duncan’s killing in 1040 and was murdered in 1057 by Malcolm III in battle . William Shakespeare immortalized Macbeth and his life story in his famous play which goes by the very same name: Macbeth. Shakespeare used Holinshed’s Chronicles by Raphael Holinshed as his primary source, the basis for the plot of the play. Shakespeare made a considerable number of alterations in the story line and form. In this essay, I will explore what changes Shakespeare made and for what reason.
In Macbeth, a thane Macbeth hears a prophecy by three witches: he will be king. Macbeth decides to take help faith and kill king Duncan. His character changes dramatically in Shakespeare’s narration and finally Macbeth is obsessed and is murdered a fearful man.
Holinshed wrote his Chronicles, the first edition published in 1577, with a straight-forward purpose: he wanted to inform his readers about “the Hi?torie of Englad” , which includes “Scotlande and Irelande”. Not surprisingly, Holinshed employed an objective means, in the form of a multivolume book, telling his audience about the history. He also stressed in his preface that he wanted to be as objective as possible and did not want to let his own opinions prevail. He based his work on ample historians’ scriptures of and many sources.
Shakespeare’s audience is, however, considerably different from Holinshed’s. Shakespeare wrote a play to be performed for all classes of people and carry a message and a clear purpose.
A striking first change is the form: Shakespeare wrote a play. A trivial explanation is Shakespeare’s talent, emotional and visual bonding, and the accessibility for the audience: literacy was low . However, it is virtually impossible …
…and played for high class audiences and had an own winter place . I also consider Macbeth a stepping stone for Shakespeare’s later career.
Shakespeare had to match the play with James’ political beliefs and his vision concerning witchcraft, which account for many alterations. James was concerned with the human conscience and witchcraft . This might have been his inspiration for the theme and the witches’ depiction , adding to the play’s effect.
In conclusion, opposite to Holinshed’s with a quite objective and factual although ‘boring’ story for a historical audience, Shakespeare wrote a play to convey a moral message to and enthral the ordinary people as well as to please king James I.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth, however dramatically altered, however historically inaccurate, continues to teach mankind a moral lesson and it will always be a brilliant piece of literature.