Macbeth Notes

Macbeth brave general under Duncan who becomes to ambitious after three witches give a prophecy that he will be King of Scotland; he turns to evil, killing the king, the guards, and the others
Lady Macbeth vicious wife of Macbeth even more ambitious than Macbeth; she convinces Macbeth to murder the king. Later, she becomes insane from her wrongdoings and sleepwalks
Macduff General, believes that Macbeth killed the King
Banquo Macbeth’s friend and general, suspected Macbeth of killing King Duncan
King Duncan King of Scotland, murdered by Macbeth who was one of his generals whom he had just promoted
Malcolm Duncan’s eldest son, runs away to England after he learns of his father’s murder in order to escape the same fate
The Three Witches (Weird Sisters) They tell Macbeth that he is to become King, leading him to evil. They also tell him that he will be defeated, but they disguise it in a way as to give him false confidence
Fleance Banquo’s son, who survives Macbeth’s attempt to murder him. At the end of the play, Fleance’s whereabouts are unknown. Presumably, he may come to rule Scotland, fulfilling the Witches’ prophecy
Hecate Moon goddess and goddess of the witches, directs supernatural occurrences; makes plan to give Macbeth false security
Donalbain Duncan’s youngest son, runs away to Ireland after he learns of his father’s murder in order to escape the same fate
Ross Macduff’s cousin, messenger who carries news to people like Macbeth and Macduff throughout the play
Lennox Nobleman, suspicious of the murder of the king
Seyton Macbeth’s lieutenant
Porter Watches Macbeth’s castle; when drunk, thought that he was the keeper of Hell’s Gates and that sinners were knocking at the door to be admitted
Old Siward Earl of Northumberland, ally of Malcolm and Macduff against Macbeth
Young Siward Old Siward’s son whom Macbeth kills in an encounter at the end of the play
The Murderers A group of ruffians conscripted by Macbeth to murder Banquo, Fleance (whom they fail to kill), and those close to macduff
Lady Macduff Macduff’s wife. The scene in her castle provides our only glimpse of a domestic realm other than that of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. She and her home serve as contrasts to Lady Macbeth and the hellish world of Inverness
Intro to Macbeth -written in 1606-published in 1623-at first he is not a bad guy-he murders his cousin
Setting -King Duncan is the King of Scotland-Edward the Confessor is the King of England-The time period is the eleventh century (1000-1099)-Shakespeare used poetic license to bend some of the historical information
The Historical Background -The king of England in 1606 was James I, a Stuart-There was no Tudor successor to the throne of England. So, Elizabeth I chose James VI of Scotland to succeed her. After her death in 1603, James VI of Scotland became James I of England-Elizabeth I had been instrumental in the death of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who was beheaded-On her deathbed, Elizabeth wanted to ease her conscience so she chose Mary’s son James to become the next king of England-The appointment of James I was a good political move, unifying England and Scotland under one king
A Tribute to King James I: -Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606, during King James’ reign-King James was a devout advocate of the “Divine Right of Kings”-the setting is Scotland, King James’ homeland-Banquo was an ancestor of James and is shown in the play to be a virtuous person-James believed himself to be an expert on witchcraft-James had interest in faith healing
An Appeal to Elizabethan People’s Interests: -Shakespeare demonstrated the Elizabethan belief that the country is stable only if the king is good and virtuous-Elizabethans believed that evil occurs in darkness, which is a recurring theme in Macbeth’-Shakespeare included a lot of blood and murder, which the Elizabethans expected to see in a play-The play was considered a thriller, a threat to an anointed King and the perceived evil behind the threat)
History and Macbeth -Macdonwald’s rebellion and the invasion of Sweno took place at different times (Shakespeare combined them)-Duncan is supposed to have been killed by four hired servants (Shakespeare has Macbeth commit the murder)-History represents Banquo as equal in guilt with Macbeth (Shakespeare whitewashes Banquo’s character as a compliment to King James)-History makes no mention of Lady Macbeth (Her character is almost wholly the creation of Shakespeare)-In history, Macbeth fled before Macduff (Shakespeare shows Macbeth bravely fighting him)-Used Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland as historical reference for his plays
Before the Curtain Opens: -When the play begins, there are two wars in progress:-Civil War (King Duncan vs. Macdonwald’s rebels)-National War (Scotland, led by King Duncan, against invading Norway, led by King Sweno

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