Kingship Essay Macbeth

Macbeth Kingship Essay


With detailed reference to the characters of Macbeth, Duncan, Malcolm and Edward in the play ‘Macbeth’, analyse William Shakespeare’s ideas and attributes towards kingship and assess what you think the audiences reaction to the play would be at the time.

Shakespeare’s ideas towards kingship can be seen throughout the play. He shows that a king should be chosen by divine right and shows the attributes of what a good king should be.

The play ‘Macbeth’ is set in medieval Scotland at the fictional time of King Duncan. Scotland is currently at war with the Norwegians when news of their victory comes through, with thanks to the two leaders of the army Macbeth and Banquo. On their travel home Macbeth and Banquo stumble upon some old hags, and they predict Macbeth’s future to him. This startles Macbeth and his hunger for power grows so much that he and his wife plot to murder the well-respected King Duncan. Under Macbeth’s reign, Scotland becomes a country of turmoil because of the wicked leadership. Macbeth murders his best friend and another friend’s family and because of this Tyranny, paranoia sets in on Macbeth who sees many ghostly visions of people he sent out to be murdered. Scotland greatly suffers under his reign, this turns Lady Macbeth mad, and she eventually commits suicide. Macduff, eventually goes to England to ask for the help of the noble king Edward, who is highly respected for help to overthrow the leadership of Macbeth, and so the Anglo-Scottish revolt sees Macbeth to his death and Malcolm the son of Duncan is proclaimed king of Scotland.

Macbeth is the main character in the play and starts the play as a very hard fighting, loyal soldier whose bravery had just led the way to a victory over the Norwegians. It could be an essay in its own right to talk about how the character of Macbeth develops and changes, at the beginning he is a god-like hero –a firm, strong, loyal character. But through allowing his ambition to suppress his good qualities, he becomes ‘this tyrant’ (act4 sc3 L12 –Malcolm), this ‘dwarfish thief’ (act5 sc3 L12 –Angus) and this ‘hellhound’ (act5 sc6 L42 –Macduff). The character of Macbeth is a study of how one person can degenerate from ‘Bellona’s bridegroom’ (act1 sc2 L55) to ‘this dead butcher’ (act5 sc6 L108). Ambition is his fatal weakness. He allows, first the witches’ prophecy act1 sc3 L46-50 and then his wife’s ambition for him, to undermine his integrity act1 sc5 L58-68. He is not easily won over by evil, his love and respect for Duncan is evident throughout the play. Because Banquo knew the prophecy of the witches, he ordered his death in case he thought that he might have killed Duncan, act3 sc1 Line start – 10 Banquo says he has all three as the witches predicted. Under his reign of tyranny, he kills and slaughters. A dominant feature about the play is that when there is a bad king, the country as well suffers, and many characters talk of how Scotland is suffering act4 sc3 L168-169 ‘Where sighs, and...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

Macbeth Comparison Essay

579 words - 2 pages Macbeth Comparison Essay A quote which really defines Lady Macbeth and Macbeth's ambition regarding power is "Power does not corrupt men; fools; however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power" George Bernard Shaw. Lady Macbeth is more ambitious in terms of gaining power then Macbeth is and that Lady Macbeth will do almost anything to gain power, even evil things that she normally wouldn't do. This is shown when Macbeth and...

Macbeth, by William Shakespeare Essay

941 words - 4 pages William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the play which tells the story of a soldier and the disastrous path which he took in pursuit of the throne. Macbeth was a victim of forces beyond his control; they are the witches and Lady Macbeth. The witches create a stimulus for Macbeth to become destructive in his pursuit for the throne. However Macbeth was only persuaded and ready to kill after being influenced by Lady Macbeth. Therefore we can assume that it...

Macbeth

546 words - 2 pages This greed that drove Macbeth made him eager to acquire kingship. In order for Macbeth to become king, he chose to kill Duncan. Macbeth did not deserve to be king if he was immorally willing to kill an innocent man whom he had nothing against....

Who Is To Blame For Macbeth's Tragic Downfall?

850 words - 3 pages Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, depicts the treacherous steps that one ambitious man endures to receive the title of kingship. With the company of Banquo, whom the throne will heir to in the future, Macbeth is confronted by three witches who inform him that he will one day be king. Macbeth believes the witches prophecies, therefore deciding that he must rid of all who are of the utmost importance in terms of kingship. Once Macbeth...

Macbeth analytical essay

772 words - 3 pages Analytical EssayPolanski's film Macbeth shows a darker side of the story of Macbeth originally written by Shakespeare. Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's tragedies and also one of Shakespeare's most violent tragedies. In this essay it will observe the following topics: the film's treatment of the original text's plot, the representations of characters and their relationships, the representation of themes, and the symbols...

Study of Macbeth and the leading characters in Shakespeares play.

1623 words - 6 pages Pointing the finger at MacbethIn 1606, a British author by the name of William Shakespeare wrote the play, Macbeth as a tribute to the king. Shakespeare wrote many kinds of literature, but he is infamous for his tragedies. A tragedy is defined as a play dealing with tragic events and usually includes the down fall of the protagonist, or the leading person in a play. The protagonist in the play Macbeth, is Macbeth himself. The theme of...

To what extent can Lady Macbeth be considered the fourth witch in Macbeth? Support your answer with reference to the text.

539 words - 2 pages To what extent can Lady Macbeth be considered the fourth witch in Macbeth? Support your answer with close reference to the text.Lady Macbeth can be considered the fourth witch in Macbeth to a great extent.Firstly, Lady Macbeth is wicked. She calls upon "thick night and pall thee in the dunnest smoke...

Last name 1 The Set-Up name teacher course-code date         Macbeth

1192 words - 5 pages Last name 1 The Set-Up name teacher course-code date Macbeth was a very noble man as well as a very strong warrior. His status in life was very high and he was true to his king. He was a very devoted husband who truly loved his wife. This wonderful life of his was now just a smudge in Macbeth's memory compared to the mess he got into. His life came to a tragic halt after many wrong choices and bad influences. Macbeth's downfall not...

Appearance and Reality in Shakespeare's Macbeth

1198 words - 5 pages Macbeth:  Appearance and Reality The theme of appearance versus reality is very important in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The characters of Duncan, Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth are unable to differentiate between appearance and reality, resulting in tragic consequences. Poor judgment is evidenced by Duncan, who trusts Macbeth too much; Lady Macbeth, who is fooled by the witches; and Macbeth, who is tricked repeatedly by others.         ...

The Lust for Power in Macbeth by William Shakespeare

1254 words - 5 pages The Lust for Power in Macbeth by William Shakespeare *Works Cited Not Included Macbeth's destiny and his lust for power, confirmed by the Three Witches and Lady Macbeth, leads to destruction. Every act that Macbeth commits effects the kingdom as a whole. Macbeth's indecisiveness and his understanding of success cause this destruction. This lust for power leads Macbeth, as it would all...

Macbeth: Fate or Free-will.

578 words - 2 pages In Shakespeare's Macbeth, there is a question as to whether or not Macbeth is driven by fate or free will. The three weird sisters approach Macbeth with prophecies that will all come true in the end. It would appear that Macbeth is just following destiny at first. However, Macbeth always had a choice throughout the play to choose his own fate. Macbeth journeyed to his murderous doom through his own free choice.In Act I, the three...

Kingship in Macbeth

Get Your
Essay Written

Starting at Just $13.90 a page

Macbeth – Kingship In the monarchical society depicted in this play. The King was regarded as God’s direct representative on Earth. The universe was viewed as an ordered structure in which every creature had its place. An offence against the King, the head of this ordered structure, was considered an offence against God, and an offence on the ordered scheme on which human welfare depended. The King embodied the moral and social welfare of his subjects and, with this in mind, the theme of Kingship can easily be understood.

In the play, the exercise of royal power, whether with potential for good or evil, is so significant a theme that Shakespeare prevents four versions of it. Firstly, there is the kind, almost ideal kingship of Duncan, whose murder creates the perversion of this ideal. This is followed by the cruel reign of the usurper Macbeth. King Edward, though an indirect character, has supreme royal power and his reign represents the opposite to Macbeth’s reign of terror. While Macbeth’s reign highlights the capacity for evil hidden in kingship, Edward’s represents the capacity for absolute goodness.

Finally, speculation remains as to Malcolm’s potential as future King of Scotland. Such was the Godlike power that the King exerted over his subjects, the path was left open for the triumph of good or evil. “Gracious Duncan” is the first example of a benign and worthy King. From his introduction in to his untimely death, Duncan appears to have been the ideal King, who exemplified the “King becoming graces” sought by Malcolm. Duncan is the essence of graciousness, humility and temperance. He is admired by his subjects for his justice, gratitude, generosity and humility.

He is generous in his praise of those whom he feels have served him well, in particular Macbeth, “O worthiest cousin/ More is thy due than more all can pay. ” Duncan’s benign guidance is rewarded by the loyal support of his people. However, Duncan is not entirely without fault. While his strengths as a King lie in his mild-tempered nature and generous character, his weakness is displayed in his overly-trusting nature. He is too trusting to notice the corruption in a treacherous subordinate, “He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust,” and of this naivete the Thane of Cawdor took full advantage.

Duncan himself declares “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. ” However having scarcely been saved from rebellion by the “bloody execution” of his great warriors (on whom he is heavily reliant,) Duncan once again displays a foolish lack of judgement in his haste to pronounce Macbeth “worthy Cawdor. ” In doing so, he once again affirms an “absolute trust” in a disloyal subordinate. Although Duncan is invested with certain flaws, he is primarily a force of goodness in the play. The trust he places in others is noble in a King, as it is the insecure mind which harbours suspicion.

Duncan’s murder, therefore, is unnatural, against the moral order, a heinous crime against the course of nature. The regicide is so unjust that even Macbeth himself realises its callous, horrific nature, “This Duncan hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office, that his virtues will plead like angels trumpet tongu’d against the deep damnation of their taking off. ” Macbeth’s obvious distress and guilt in the face of his crime is indicative of Duncan’s benigh reign, yet nevertheless he commits regicide and succeeds to the throne as a usurper.

Macbeth’s unlawful accession to the thrown perverts the ideal and upsets the natural order. Life giving imagery associated with Duncan reflected the harmony in nature, the peaceful concord that existed during his reign, “I have begun to plant thee and will labour to make thee full of growing,” while under Macbeth, “Scotland bleeds. ” Macbeth’s reign exemplifies the latent potential for evil in kingship. He acquires regal power illegally and abuses it when he has it, to the detriment of his country, killing all those who oppose his rule. Macbeth, however, is unhappy in his “great office. The achievement of power has not brought him contentment, “To be thus is nothing but to be safely thus. ” He fears that his “borrowed power” will be taken from him in the same way he achieved it and therefore he seeks immediately to establish a dictatorship, in order to fortify his position on the throne. His reign, for which he “play’d most foully” is marked by tyranny, corruption and death, as Scotland “sinks” under the rule of the “dwarfish thief” who cannot measure up to the fruitful and just reign of his predecessor. The potential for evil in kingship is explored through the many murders committed by Macbeth.

He is able to maintain his regal power only by resorting to murder and terror against his subjects, culminating in the callous murder of Macduff’s family in Act 4 Scene 2. This heinous crime, fuelled only by a deep-rooted insecurity, is indicative of the potential for evil in kingship. As the “untitled tyrant,” Macbeth unleased the full reign of evil present in his nature and thus let loose into Scotland a disruptive evil force. Under Macbeth, Scotland, “sinks beneath the yoke/It weeps, it bleeds and each new day/A new gash is added to her wounds. The heinous nature of Macbeth’s “blood-soak’d”Reign supports the notion that kingship bears potential for both good and evil. Edward, King of England, provides a welcome alternative to the diabolical cruelty of Macbeth. There is a pointed contrast between Edward and Macbeth. Having disregarded the natural order, Macbeth used his regal power for purposes of destruction and ruination. However Edward, like Duncan, was chosen by God as one of his direct representative’s on Earth. He is a true and rightful King as is seen as a saintly force, endowed with virtue and holiness, whose powers of miraculous healing represent the divinity of kingship.

The court of Edward, where Malcolm sought refuge from Macbeth’s murderous designs, is presented as a holy place, presided over by a King who enjoys divine sanction and special gifts from God that “speak him full of grace. ” Edward is portrayed as a “holy King,” a fitting opponent to the diabolical cruelty of Macbeth. As the opposing forces of goodness assemble, liturgical language and imagery become more fluid and frequent. Words such as “prayer” and “blessing” are frequently employed to illustrate the beatific reign of Edward and to convey his healing power and graciousness.

The absolute goodness of King Edward highlights the opposing forces of good and evil in the play and represents the potential of kingship not only to generate goodness but to transform evil into goodness. The final image of kingship in the play revolves around Malcolm. His function in the play is highly significant as it is his duty to restore the status quo. As the rightful heir to the throne, the son of a good King and a holy mother, his smooth accession to the throne secures his acceptance by his subjects. Not only does this entitle him to the kingship, but it also promises a beinign reign.

However, Malcolm appears young and ineffectual and seems a slight figure to dispel the dark cloud of Macbeth’s reign, certainly when compared to the strength of character of Macduff. His hasty departure following the murder of his father is the frenzied action of a fearful, doubtful character. However, Shakespeare allows for Malcolm’s maturing and he quickly grows into his role. He does not squander his time in England, rather he actively seeks King Edward’s aid. Malcolm is cautious and careful, wary of becoming “a weak poor innocent lamb to appease an angry god. His caution is commendable and desirable in a future king and he displays none of the naivete of his father, “To show unfelt sorrow is an office which the false man does easy. ” He subjects Macduff to an elaborate tests to assure his loyalty to Scotland and he recalls the king-becoming graces, “Justice, loyalty, temperance, stableness, bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, devotion, patience, courage, fortitude. ” Malcolm’s vision of kingship is admirable and marks a hopeful outlook for the future of Scotland. Malcolm acquires authority and is obeyed.

His succession to the throne is significant in restoring the natural order, and it is evident that Malcolm will use his regal power for purposes of good. The future of Scotland looks bright under the new King, although it is hard to imagine his asserting his authority without men of Macduff’s calibre on his side. The theme of kingship in the play Macbeth is indeed a crucial one. There seems to be more to attaining regal power than merely sitting on the throne. One must be a King and inherit rightfully by succession, and thereby prosper with the grace of God.

Do you like
this material?Get help to write a similar one

Malcolm, like Edward and Duncan, is the rightful heir to the throne and this status promises a benign reign. It is evident from the above examples that the position of King is such a potent one that there is immense potential for absolute good or absolute evil. With the death of Macbeth, and the subsequent accession of Malcolm, the universal order is finally restored and Scotland will subsequently thrive. Under Macbeth, Scotland suffered and it is clear then that a country’s suffering or prosperity is a direct reflection of the moral nature of its King.

Author: Cari Minns

in Macbeth

Kingship in Macbeth

We have so large base of authors that we can prepare a unique summary of any book. Don't believe? Check it!

How fast would you like to get it?

Categories: 1

0 Replies to “Kingship Essay Macbeth”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *