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Shakespeare's purpose in Macbeth Watch

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    Hello all,
    I am studying AQA in English Lit and was wondering if you could help me with perceptive points on Shakespeare's purpose on writing the play and messages he wanted to get through to the audience, thanks a lot!
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    (Original post by esha20x)
    Hello all,
    I am studying AQA in English Lit and was wondering if you could help me with perceptive points on Shakespeare's purpose on writing the play and messages he wanted to get through to the audience, thanks a lot!
    Context of the play:
    Written for James I, who believed strongly in witches (actually he wrote a book on witches!)
    James I was a descendant of Banquo and Fleance, so that's why Shakespeare showed them in good light (when in fact historically they helped to kill Duncan)
    The typical 17th century audience would have believed in witches and although the witches in the play are never addressed or called "witches" it would have been obvious to the audience as witch stereotypes at the time are used
    The audience also would've been shocked by Lady Macbeth at the start of the play as she doesn't play a standard submissive wife role; of course, for a 21st Century audience you could argue we admire her strength and boldness
    Written to support the monarchy view of the Divine Right of Kings (basically sucking up to James I in suggesting the terrible events that could happen if someone tried to murder the king or meddle with the throne)

    Hopefully this is okay? I'm not sure how useful this is for what you were asking XD
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    (Original post by esha20x)
    Hello all,
    I am studying AQA in English Lit and was wondering if you could help me with perceptive points on Shakespeare's purpose on writing the play and messages he wanted to get through to the audience, thanks a lot!
    Adding to Pastelx, the reason why many people wanted King James I dead was because he was not a direct heir of Queen Elizabeth as she didn't have any children. James was her cousin. So people thought he was illegitimate and many nobles started claiming their right to the throne. A year before Macbeth was written the Gunpowder Plot (1605) occurred. Therefore, Macbeth was written as a cautionary tale for those thinking of committing regicide. You can link that to Shakespeare attacking their fear of the supernatural while also supporting James' beliefs of the supernatural.

    Hope this helped
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    ^^ Small correction that James was Elizabeth's nephew once removed (Mary Queen of Scots was Elizabeth's cousin)

    I haven't been taught this in English but perhaps an interesting point relating to MainlyMathsHelp is that Elizabeth did order the excecution of Mary Queen of Scots nine years after having kept her own cousin locked up. I imagine this would have been a bad message sent to others as Elizabeth had killed the queen of Scotland, suggesting it was acceptable? Of course, that's not the message James I would have wanted, also being James VI of Scotland. Again, haven't been taught this, but it's a interesting thought...
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    (Original post by Pastelx)
    ^^ Small correction that James was Elizabeth's nephew once removed (Mary Queen of Scots was Elizabeth's cousin)

    I haven't been taught this in English but perhaps an interesting point relating to MainlyMathsHelp is that Elizabeth did order the excecution of Mary Queen of Scots nine years after having kept her own cousin locked up. I imagine this would have been a bad message sent to others as Elizabeth had killed the queen of Scotland, suggesting it was acceptable? Of course, that's not the message James I would have wanted, also being James VI of Scotland. Again, haven't been taught this, but it's a interesting thought...
    This is all really good historical background and useful to a point. But the main reason he wrote was to entertain. Analysing Shakespeare is a 19th and 20th century phenomenon, and we tend to look at his plays through the lens of a number of important critics over the last 100 years or so. Shakespeare was an actor first, and performed in many of his plays. He'd probably be appalled that we spent so much time analysing him!

    The reason we study Shakespeare even now is largely twofold: he was the first writer to create three dimensional characters, and the language, which is still some of the most beautiful ever written. The whole play is one extraordinary poem: no one has ever written in that way before. Plenty had written using clever metaphor and poetic language, but not to the depth of Shakespeare.

    Your mentions above about context help us to understand the time he was writing in, but there were lots of playwrights around at the same time. He stood out simply because he wrote the best plays of his generation, that audiences loved.

    It's better to think of writers exploring themes through characters rather than them having a message they wanted to pass to an audience. And what makes Shakespeare's characters great is that a dominant theme is change. Macbeth goes through a huge change, a long and tragic journey throughout the play. He is a very different man at the end than the beginning. In many ways he was an example of our more modern preoccupation with our interior world. Massively ahead of his time.

    Macbeth was one of the reasons I became an English teacher, and it's still my favourite of all the Bard's plays.

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    (Original post by darrencoxon)
    This is all really good historical background and useful to a point. But the main reason he wrote was to entertain. Analysing Shakespeare is a 19th and 20th century phenomenon, and we tend to look at his plays through the lens of a number of important critics over the last 100 years or so. Shakespeare was an actor first, and performed in many of his plays. He'd probably be appalled that we spent so much time analysing him!

    The reason we study Shakespeare even now is largely twofold: he was the first writer to create three dimensional characters, and the language, which is still some of the most beautiful ever written. The whole play is one extraordinary poem: no one has ever written in that way before. Plenty had written using clever metaphor and poetic language, but not to the depth of Shakespeare.

    Your mentions above about context help us to understand the time he was writing in, but there were lots of playwrights around at the same time. He stood out simply because he wrote the best plays of his generation, that audiences loved.

    It's better to think of writers exploring themes through characters rather than them having a message they wanted to pass to an audience. And what makes Shakespeare's characters great is that a dominant theme is change. Macbeth goes through a huge change, a long and tragic journey throughout the play. He is a very different man at the end than the beginning. In many ways he was an example of our more modern preoccupation with our interior world. Massively ahead of his time.

    Macbeth was one of the reasons I became an English teacher, and it's still my favourite of all the Bard's plays.

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    Thanks!!
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    (Original post by Pastelx)
    Context of the play:
    Written for James I, who believed strongly in witches (actually he wrote a book on witches!)
    James I was a descendant of Banquo and Fleance, so that's why Shakespeare showed them in good light (when in fact historically they helped to kill Duncan)
    The typical 17th century audience would have believed in witches and although the witches in the play are never addressed or called "witches" it would have been obvious to the audience as witch stereotypes at the time are used
    The audience also would've been shocked by Lady Macbeth at the start of the play as she doesn't play a standard submissive wife role; of course, for a 21st Century audience you could argue we admire her strength and boldness
    Written to support the monarchy view of the Divine Right of Kings (basically sucking up to James I in suggesting the terrible events that could happen if someone tried to murder the king or meddle with the throne)

    Hopefully this is okay? I'm not sure how useful this is for what you were asking XD
    Thanks!
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    (Original post by MainlyMathsHelp)
    Adding to Pastelx, the reason why many people wanted King James I dead was because he was not a direct heir of Queen Elizabeth as she didn't have any children. James was her cousin. So people thought he was illegitimate and many nobles started claiming their right to the throne. A year before Macbeth was written the Gunpowder Plot (1605) occurred. Therefore, Macbeth was written as a cautionary tale for those thinking of committing regicide. You can link that to Shakespeare attacking their fear of the supernatural while also supporting James' beliefs of the supernatural.

    Hope this helped
    Yeah it did, thank you!
 
 
 
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