Macbeth – Context

Written 1603 – 1607
Performed 1611
Gun Powder Plot • An attempt to kill King James I• The play becomes a warning as to what could happen if the rightful king is killed – Duncan is killed & chaos ensued • Consider the divine right of kings (religious interpretations)• King chosen by God so to interfere in the divine right of kingship is to challenge God• Henry Garnet – Equivocation taught to those involved in the plot – Catholics could lie without breaking a commandment – Didn’t give away guilt as they didn’t give straight answers
Context Written during the Jacobean period for Jacobean audiences King James I = son of Mary Queen of Scott’s – Macbeth is set in Scotland seeking kings favourJames I was also James VI of ScotlandKing James I = obsessed with the supernatural• James I wrote book – “Demonology”• Consider – did Shakespeare include the witches simply to please the king, could the play have worked without them? King James I = can trace his ancestry back to Banquo – In the Holinshed’s Chronicles Macbeth is a pre-Gothic text

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