Exploration of Shakespeare's Views on Kingship Through Macbeth Essay

Exploration of Shakespeare's Views on Kingship Through Macbeth Essay

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Exploration of Shakespeare's Views on Kingship Through Macbeth
Works Cited Not Included
Macbeth was written by William Shakespeare in around 1606 and is
Shakespeare's shortest tragedy. He wrote Macbeth whilst James I was on
the throne. James believed strongly in divine right. This may have
helped Shakespeare's views on kingship. In Macbeth there are four
kings: Edward of England; Duncan; Malcolm and Macbeth. Of these four
only Macbeth did not rule by divine right as he murdered the previous
king so as to gain the throne. Also of these four only Macbeth can be
described as a truly bad king.

Duncan epitomizes just about everything a king should be. Shakespeare
presents Duncan to the reader as a dignified gentle and conscientious
ruler. Duncan also has the virtue of being gracious, open, honest and
sincere. Duncan shows us that he is a firm and decisive king with good
leadership qualities when he deals promptly with the traitor Cawdor.
He is also a very generous man. For example in Act 2 Scene 1 Duncan
gives Lady Macbeth a diamond as a present. Duncan shows that he can
also be fair, loyal and appreciative. We see this in particular when
he bestows a title on Macbeth (the Thane of Cawdor) after Macbeth's
heroic actions against Norway. Duncan also fulfils another important
duty to Scotland by raising a good heir.

However, he might be considered a less than perfect king in other
respects. Duncan is not a very good judge of character. For example
Duncan believes that Macbeth is a good and loyal person, yet it is

... middle of paper ...

... bounty,
perseverance, mercy, lowliness, devotion, patience, courage and
fortitude". A good king should not come to the throne by murder, but
by divine right.

In Macbeth Shakespeare presents his views on what virtues a king
should and should not possess. Shakespeare also underlines what can
happen if a king doesn't possess the necessary virtues to rule - it
can bring war and destruction to the country. Shakespeare uses Macbeth
to show this. Shakespeare also alleges that kings that gain the throne
through divine right have god's blessing to rule and hence will rule
well. This is in contrast to Macbeth's rule, which brings havoc to
Scotland. In summary I conclude that Shakespeare upholds the accepted
idealised vision of kingship. He outlines the catastrophes that can
happen if the throne falls into the wrong hands.

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