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Laurel
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Re: HISTORICAL MACBETH



Everyman wrote:
Here's the actual excerpt of what Holinshed wrote:

At length therefore, communicating his purposed intent with his trustie friends, amongst whome Banquho was the chiefest, vpon confidence of their promised aid, he slue the king at Enuerns, or (as some say) at Botgosuane, in the sixt yeare of his reigne.

Not very like the play's version, is it?




A 'purposed intent' sounds like premeditation to me.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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cheryl_shell
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More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

[ Edited ]
To add to all your posts, here are a few more websites that give information about the historical men.

BBC-History-Macbeth

BBC-H2G2-Macbeth

Duncan and Macbeth

General History of the Highlands

Message Edited by cheryl_shell on 03-06-200707:50 PM

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Everyman
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

[ Edited ]
Good references; thanks, Cheryl!

The first line of the first site says it all:

"Shakespeare's Macbeth bears little resemblance to the real 11th century Scottish king."

Message Edited by Everyman on 03-06-200710:08 PM

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Everyman
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

Snippets from those great sites:

"Duncan became King of Scotland upon the death of Malcolm in 1034. He was a much weaker character than Malcolm and a terrible leader. He led a disastrous campaign into Northumbria and was forced to retreat ignominiously back to Scotland. His cousin MacBeth, chief of the northern Scots, also had a claim to the throne through his mother. MacBeth formed an alliance with his cousin the Earl of Orkney, and they defeated and killed Duncan near Forres in 1040."

"As for the personalities of the two main characters, Duncan and MacBeth, again Shakespeare's portrayal is not historically correct. In the play Duncan is portrayed as a strong, wise and elderly king whereas in reality he was a weak and ineffective ruler. Shakespeare's Macbeth has virtually no legitimate claim to the throne whereas the real MacBeth had a respectable claim through his mother's side - indeed both MacBeth and his wife were descended from Kenneth MacAlpin. Shakespeare also gives MacBeth the title 'Thane of Glamis' but in fact Glamis was not known as a thanage in the 11th century.

All in all, the confusing mix of fact and fiction which runs through the play is bewildering."
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Choisya
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

But none of it takes away from the fact that it is a great play Everyman and that Shakespeare the dramatist used the story of regicide to good effect.




Everyman wrote:
Snippets from those great sites:

"Duncan became King of Scotland upon the death of Malcolm in 1034. He was a much weaker character than Malcolm and a terrible leader. He led a disastrous campaign into Northumbria and was forced to retreat ignominiously back to Scotland. His cousin MacBeth, chief of the northern Scots, also had a claim to the throne through his mother. MacBeth formed an alliance with his cousin the Earl of Orkney, and they defeated and killed Duncan near Forres in 1040."

"As for the personalities of the two main characters, Duncan and MacBeth, again Shakespeare's portrayal is not historically correct. In the play Duncan is portrayed as a strong, wise and elderly king whereas in reality he was a weak and ineffective ruler. Shakespeare's Macbeth has virtually no legitimate claim to the throne whereas the real MacBeth had a respectable claim through his mother's side - indeed both MacBeth and his wife were descended from Kenneth MacAlpin. Shakespeare also gives MacBeth the title 'Thane of Glamis' but in fact Glamis was not known as a thanage in the 11th century.

All in all, the confusing mix of fact and fiction which runs through the play is bewildering."


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Choisya
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

The BBC link was the first one I posted - I expect that by now every knows that there is very little resemblance to historical facts in the play so we might as well enjoy it for what it is.:smileyhappy:



Everyman wrote:
Good references; thanks, Cheryl!

The first line of the first site says it all:

"Shakespeare's Macbeth bears little resemblance to the real 11th century Scottish king."

Message Edited by Everyman on 03-06-200710:08 PM




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Choisya
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

Not bewildering Everyman if you just suspend your disbelief and take the 'play' for what it is - dramatic fiction and a good yarn.



Everyman wrote:
Snippets from those great sites:

"Duncan became King of Scotland upon the death of Malcolm in 1034. He was a much weaker character than Malcolm and a terrible leader. He led a disastrous campaign into Northumbria and was forced to retreat ignominiously back to Scotland. His cousin MacBeth, chief of the northern Scots, also had a claim to the throne through his mother. MacBeth formed an alliance with his cousin the Earl of Orkney, and they defeated and killed Duncan near Forres in 1040."

"As for the personalities of the two main characters, Duncan and MacBeth, again Shakespeare's portrayal is not historically correct. In the play Duncan is portrayed as a strong, wise and elderly king whereas in reality he was a weak and ineffective ruler. Shakespeare's Macbeth has virtually no legitimate claim to the throne whereas the real MacBeth had a respectable claim through his mother's side - indeed both MacBeth and his wife were descended from Kenneth MacAlpin. Shakespeare also gives MacBeth the title 'Thane of Glamis' but in fact Glamis was not known as a thanage in the 11th century.

All in all, the confusing mix of fact and fiction which runs through the play is bewildering."


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Everyman
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

True. I just wish he could have learned to write great dramas without having to trash the reputations of honorable men.

Choisya wrote:
But none of it takes away from the fact that it is a great play Everyman and that Shakespeare the dramatist used the story of regicide to good effect.




Everyman wrote:
Snippets from those great sites:

"Duncan became King of Scotland upon the death of Malcolm in 1034. He was a much weaker character than Malcolm and a terrible leader. He led a disastrous campaign into Northumbria and was forced to retreat ignominiously back to Scotland. His cousin MacBeth, chief of the northern Scots, also had a claim to the throne through his mother. MacBeth formed an alliance with his cousin the Earl of Orkney, and they defeated and killed Duncan near Forres in 1040."

"As for the personalities of the two main characters, Duncan and MacBeth, again Shakespeare's portrayal is not historically correct. In the play Duncan is portrayed as a strong, wise and elderly king whereas in reality he was a weak and ineffective ruler. Shakespeare's Macbeth has virtually no legitimate claim to the throne whereas the real MacBeth had a respectable claim through his mother's side - indeed both MacBeth and his wife were descended from Kenneth MacAlpin. Shakespeare also gives MacBeth the title 'Thane of Glamis' but in fact Glamis was not known as a thanage in the 11th century.

All in all, the confusing mix of fact and fiction which runs through the play is bewildering."





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Choisya
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

He wasn't the only writer and he won't be the last to use history in this way. Only if and when it becomes legally impossible to do so will this sort of rewriting of history. In any case how do we know it was 'trashing' - we might later find out it was the truth if more revisionism takes place. It doesn't do to be too purist about such things IMO.




Everyman wrote:
True. I just wish he could have learned to write great dramas without having to trash the reputations of honorable men.

Choisya wrote:
But none of it takes away from the fact that it is a great play Everyman and that Shakespeare the dramatist used the story of regicide to good effect.




Everyman wrote:
Snippets from those great sites:

"Duncan became King of Scotland upon the death of Malcolm in 1034. He was a much weaker character than Malcolm and a terrible leader. He led a disastrous campaign into Northumbria and was forced to retreat ignominiously back to Scotland. His cousin MacBeth, chief of the northern Scots, also had a claim to the throne through his mother. MacBeth formed an alliance with his cousin the Earl of Orkney, and they defeated and killed Duncan near Forres in 1040."

"As for the personalities of the two main characters, Duncan and MacBeth, again Shakespeare's portrayal is not historically correct. In the play Duncan is portrayed as a strong, wise and elderly king whereas in reality he was a weak and ineffective ruler. Shakespeare's Macbeth has virtually no legitimate claim to the throne whereas the real MacBeth had a respectable claim through his mother's side - indeed both MacBeth and his wife were descended from Kenneth MacAlpin. Shakespeare also gives MacBeth the title 'Thane of Glamis' but in fact Glamis was not known as a thanage in the 11th century.

All in all, the confusing mix of fact and fiction which runs through the play is bewildering."








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Everyman
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

I'm not aware of any other author who distorted history so greatly for dramatic effect. It's not just Macbeth and Richard 3; he does it in many other plays, particularly the history plays. Are you aware of any other authors with such a large repertoire of historical inaccuracies about real people?

Choisya wrote:
He wasn't the only writer and he won't be the last to use history in this way.



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stratford
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Re: HISTORICAL MACBETH

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!



Choisya wrote:
Great post Stratford
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Laurel
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth



Everyman wrote:
I'm not aware of any other author who distorted history so greatly for dramatic effect. It's not just Macbeth and Richard 3; he does it in many other plays, particularly the history plays. Are you aware of any other authors with such a large repertoire of historical inaccuracies about real people?

Choisya wrote:
He wasn't the only writer and he won't be the last to use history in this way.








Schiller--Don Karlo.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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stratford
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth



Everyman wrote:
I'm not aware of any other author who distorted history so greatly for dramatic effect. It's not just Macbeth and Richard 3; he does it in many other plays, particularly the history plays. Are you aware of any other authors with such a large repertoire of historical inaccuracies about real people?

Choisya wrote:
He wasn't the only writer and he won't be the last to use history in this way.








Sadly, probably most American history textbooks.
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Choisya
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Re: Writers who 'romance' history (off topic)

There are many historical novelists who did/do the same Everyman, Walter Scott for instance, and quite a few of the romantic novelists like Catherine Cookson. Not all historical novelists are as meticulous as Philippa Gregory or Alison Weir. Most of them are 'lesser' authors than Shakespeare, perhaps proving that he 'romanced' so much better. The sort of books I am thinking of are not ones which you will have read as they are mainly classed as women's romantic novels. I think the American novelist James Michener also takes quite a lot of liberties with history.

Have you 'taken against' Shakespeare as you have against Thomas More about this? I always thought you were a Shakespeare fan.:smileyhappy: Did you only find out recently that his plays were not historically accurate? I have known it all my life as we are taught that at school.




Everyman wrote:
I'm not aware of any other author who distorted history so greatly for dramatic effect. It's not just Macbeth and Richard 3; he does it in many other plays, particularly the history plays. Are you aware of any other authors with such a large repertoire of historical inaccuracies about real people?

Choisya wrote:
He wasn't the only writer and he won't be the last to use history in this way.






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Choisya
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth

I suspect that most history textbooks everywhere would be better classed as novels Stratford.:smileyhappy: To the Victor the Spoils!




stratford wrote:


Everyman wrote:
I'm not aware of any other author who distorted history so greatly for dramatic effect. It's not just Macbeth and Richard 3; he does it in many other plays, particularly the history plays. Are you aware of any other authors with such a large repertoire of historical inaccuracies about real people?

Choisya wrote:
He wasn't the only writer and he won't be the last to use history in this way.








Sadly, probably most American history textbooks.


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Carmenere_lady
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth


Everyman wrote:
I just wish he could have learned to write great dramas without having to trash the reputations of honorable men.

br>









But 'tis what good fiction is all about! Author Dan Brown of the DaVinci Code doesn't need to write again because he became a gazillionaire on those same grounds. I bet we could all find other instances where this also is the case.
Lynda

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It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
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katknit
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Re: Writers who 'romance' history (off topic)

Good points. Also, I think you have to take into account, even if you don't know yourself, what the people living in any given writer's time may have believed about a subject/person.
No two persons ever read the same book. [Edmund Wilson]
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Choisya
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Re: Writers who 'romance' history (off topic)

Yes, and not many Elizabethans had access to books so they would believe what tales were told to them by other family members, which was a bit like 'Chinese Whispers'. So the likelihood of 'the truth', whatever that was, being told about a person was pretty remote, particularly if there were national prejudices involved, as there were between the Scots and the English and Catholics and Protestants. This is true even today where, for instance, stories of Mary Queen of Scots are involved. To the Scots she is an innocent heroine and the true heir to the throne, to the English she is a woman of loose morals who plotted against one of their greatest Queens.




katknit wrote:
Good points. Also, I think you have to take into account, even if you don't know yourself, what the people living in any given writer's time may have believed about a subject/person.


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Everyman
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Re: Writers who 'romance' history (off topic)



Choisya wrote:
There are many historical novelists who did/do the same Everyman, Walter Scott for instance,...Did you only find out recently that his plays were not historically accurate?

I haven't read all of Scott, though I do have a complete collection, but I don't recall any of his novels in which he is as historically inaccurate as Shakespeare is. Certainly he had some historical inaccuracies, as have been fairly well documented in the Cambridge History, but they don't seem to me of nearly the magnitude of Shakespeare's inaccuracies. But that's a judgment, and others may disagree with it.

I have known for a long time, of course, that Shakespeare wasn't true to history. But it's only in the past few years, for plays that I know well enough in structure, character, and action to be able to concentrate on other aspects, that I have started looking in detail at the historical inaccuracies and seeing just how extraordinarily inaccurate he was -- and how willing he was to make up major incidents out of whole cloth and assign them to his characters. When we get to the History plays this will become even more an issue. It's a shame that at least on this side of the ocean many people seem to derive most of their knowledge of the history of the age from Shakespeare's plays.
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cheryl_shell
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Re: More about the "real" Duncan and Macbeth


Everyman wrote:
Snippets from those great sites:

"As for the personalities of the two main characters, Duncan and MacBeth, again Shakespeare's portrayal is not historically correct. In the play Duncan is portrayed as a strong, wise and elderly king whereas in reality he was a weak and ineffective ruler. Shakespeare's Macbeth has virtually no legitimate claim to the throne whereas the real MacBeth had a respectable claim through his mother's side - indeed both MacBeth and his wife were descended from Kenneth MacAlpin. Shakespeare also gives MacBeth the title 'Thane of Glamis' but in fact Glamis was not known as a thanage in the 11th century.

All in all, the confusing mix of fact and fiction which runs through the play is bewildering."



Thanks for pointing to this passage, Everyman. I disagree with the writer of this essay. I don't think Shakespeare unambiguously portrays Duncan as strong and wise. There are hints in Duncan's scenes that he is not as strong as he needs to be. After all, when we first meet him we learn that there are two rebel factions trying to overthrow him--one staging a revolt, and the other in league with the Norwegians. He seems truly hurt that his thanes have deceived him. That he isn't really a good judge of character becomes clear when he trusts Macbeth with the same title, Thane of Cawdor, that he trusted the last treasonous thane with. As he admits about Cawdor: "There's no art / To find the mind's construction in the face. / He was a gentleman on whom I built / An absolute trust" (1.4.11-14). No sooner does he say that, then he spots Macbeth and gushes over him, quite unking-like, with the speech that begins: "O worthiest cousin" (14).

Later, when Macbeth agonizes over killing Duncan, he describes the king's virtues in terms that are so over-the-top that his praise seems more suited to a clergyman than a king, and makes me wonder how fit Duncan was for his office:

Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off,
And pity, like a naked newborn babe,
Striding the blast, or Heaven's cherubim horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. (1.7.16-25)
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