1. What might have prompted Shakespeare to write this play? What elements of the play reflect the interests of King James I?
Answer: Shakespeare’s Macbeth traces its origins from the Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed which dates back from 1587. Published in this book are the factual records of King Macbeth’s reign. “Macbeth ruled in the eleventh century, yet it wasn’t until the fifteenth century that monks recorded his tale in early Scottish history. Andrew of Wyntoun, a canon of St. Andrew’s in Fife, completed his Cronykil in 1406. Although he laid down the basic facts of Macbeth’s tale in sequence, he did include some old tales and myths to make things more interesting. In Wyntoun’s version, Macbeth dreams of three weird sisters who tell him his destiny, Thane of Cromarty, then Thane of Moray and finally, King” (Daniel, Kooiman and Williams 8). The play features the interests of King James I such as tales of witches, treason and treachery with a tinge of bloody murders. Hence, Shakespeare wrote the play in order to please the king.
2. How does Shakespeare address the ideas of "sin" and "Hell" in Macbeth? Answer: Perhaps Macbeth is one of the greatest plays ever created by Shakespeare. The use of Biblical metaphors has been evident throughout the play. In addition, aside from the metaphors, another important analysis of the play is the treatment of sin and the premise of hell in the play. A crime is an act of doing harm to others intentionally whilst the premise of sin can be incorporated with the guilt and sadness. Theoretically speaking, crime is the violation of the laws of the mortal world whereas sin was more related to religion as it defines the disruption of the divine order of the universe. Hell was a place for the demons; however, hell can be also a place for located on Earth. Thus, upon killing Duncan, Macbeth had committed a crime against the laws of the society. Furthermore, he also committed a sin for violating the divine law which prohibits killing another person. Because of his transgressions, eventually Macbeth was put to hell by his own conscience when all of his wrongdoings came back to him and ruined his soul.
3. The three witches in Macbeth represent the three "Fates" in Greek mythology who control destiny. How do they influence Macbeth and push him along on his path to the throne?
Answer: The three witches in Shakespeare’s play represent the ‘fates’ or the goddesses in Greek mythology who have a complete power in controlling a person’s destiny. They played a role in creating the climax in the play wherein they approached Macbeth and told him that he will become king someday and urges him to kill Duncan and his family. The fates knew the greed for power that resides in Macbeth’s heart and therefore they took pleasure in taking advantage of him. Although the three witches were not as powerful as the goddesses of fates in the mythology, they proved to be cunning characters that helped Macbeth to achieve his position in the society as a king. “Using charms, spells and prophesies, these three “black and midnight hags” plant the seed in Macbeth’s mind that grows into his reign of terror, prompting murder and usurpation. The play leaves their identities rather ambiguous and they use their supernatural powers to toy with the lives of humans” (Daniel, Kooiman and Williams 2). Later, Macbeth’s greed for power made him a tyrant leader of his kingdom; for this reason alone he defended his throne by means of violence.
Daniel, David, Sarah Kooiman, and Zane Williams. Macbeth. 1st ed. Spring Green: American Players Theatre, 2005. Web. 13 Jun. 2014.
Shakespeare, William, and John Crowther. Macbeth. 1st ed. New York, NY: Spark Pub., 2003. Print.