Shakespeare Alters History: Macbeth

William Shakespeare’s tragedy play Macbeth bears little resemblance to the actual history of Scotland. Through his writing he praised King James I’s ancestor, Banquo, as an innocent victim who was betrayed by his good friend, Macbeth. However, in reality he helps Macbeth kill Duncan. Shakespeare even changed history by creating Macbeth as a dark and evil human and also including scenes of witchcraft. William drastically altered history for the approval and satisfaction of King James I.
Since Shakespeare was a well-established actor and playwright during King James I’s reign, James wanted William to write and produce plays for him. Although states King James I as a “…huge supporter of theater”, he also wanted Shakespeare to glorify him and his ancestors. With William being “…offered royal protection and money…”(, he took the king’s offer and began writing Macbeth. explains, “Shakespeare drew the plot for Macbeth from historical sources--particularly Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Even though Shakespeare used Holinshed’s Chronicles as a chief foundation for Macbeth, he selectively changed parts of history for his boss/monarch, King James I.
While Shakespeare used Holinshed's work extensively in Macbeth, it is clear that he changed different aspects of the historical writing. One of which was Banquo, the ancestor of King James I. William Shakespeare had to alter Banquo’s character immensely to create a respectable reputation for both King James I and his ancestors. According to, “In both [Macbeth and the Chronicles], Banquo initially is a noble soldier fighting along side Macbeth in King Duncan’s army”. But, shortly after Sh...

... middle of paper ... and took part in the murder of Duncan. William additionally illustrated how he revolutionized history by creating Macbeth as a villainous character and adding witchcraft. William Shakespeare made a variety of historical altercations for the approval and satisfaction of King James I.

Works Cited

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