(Suggested) Research Notes
THESE NOTES WILL BE USED IN THE BODY
In the video titled An Introduction to Macbeth Flippin English claims that Shakespeares Macbeth is a compliment and concession to King James I for his protection and patronage.
The play is set in Scotland. Before ascending the throne in England James was the king of Scotland.
James I had a fascination with witches.
James I believed he was descended from Banquo who is portrayed positively and will father a line of kings.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth who kill king Duncan come to a grisly end. When performing for a king its always a good idea to discourage regicide!
It was also believed that James I had a short attention span. Macbeth is Shakespeares shortest play.
James did become Shakespeares patron. And …the group of actors who performed Shakespeares plays…changed their name to The Kings Men
The fact that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth for James I explains why the climax of the play isnt the murder of Duncan[but] …climaxes when Banquo is murdered and Fleance – Banquos son – escapes.
However other scholars disagree stating that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth as a political insult to King James I and his Scottish Heritage.
William Farina claims in De Vere as Shakespeare: An Oxfordian Reading of the Canon:
(Page 189) The oft-repeated view that Macbeth was written as a compliment to King James deserves a closer look:
There is no record of the play ever being acted at court and this is in contrast to The Tempest which is known to have been performed at least twice at Whitehall.
Portraying ones countrymen on the public stage with a homicidal lust for power and nihilistic worldview (plus insanity and suicide tossed in for good measure) particularly when both of King James parents had been involved in murderous scandals and rumors does not seem very complimentary.
Macbeth also contains a clear subliminal message: that the Scots are a violent people especially Scottish kings.
Refers to Macbeth as a backhanded compliment and possibly a slap in the face.
Martha Cerenza Moreno claims on page 273 in Critical Approaches to Shakespeare: Shakespeare for All Time:
According to two conflicting historical accounts Banquo may or may not have participated in Macbeths plot to murder the king and in Shakespeares play Banquo has nothing to do with them.
However many critics have argued that though Banquo does not participate in the murder his behaviour is ambiguous since he knows about the prophecies and remains silent.
In a footnote Moreno quotes the author of Shakespearean Tragedy: …[After] Duncans murder Banquo is profoundly shocked full of indignation and determined to play the part of a brave and honest man. But he plays no such part. When we see him on the last day of his life we find that he has yielded to evil He alone of the lords knew of the prophecies but he said nothing of them.
In his introduction to William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Ignatius Critical Editions Joseph Pearce claims that Macbeth is exposing a sinister event in King James life:
In 1600 the Gowrie Incident involved Lord Gowrie and his brother Alexander who allegedly were Cabbalists who plotted and attempted to assassinate the king at the Gowrie estate. The Kings retinue found James being attacked by Alexander and immediately stabbed him to death and then executed Lord Gowrie. There was a prolonged witch-hunt and more executions of guilty co-conspirators.
Although few dared to question the official line of inquiry many suspected foul play on the kings part. (Page 4)
Two powerful nobles whom the king distrusted and to whom he was eight thousand pounds in debt had been killed conveniently removing both the nobles and the debt…and…the kings final Machiavellian coup de grace was the seizure of the Gowrie estate as compensation. (pages 4-5)
In 1604 a playwright affiliated with Shakespeares acting troupe the Kings Men wrote a play based upon the Gowrie conspiracy. (p.5)
…The Tragedy of Gowrie was twice performed before large crowds in December 1604 before being apparently banned by the censors.
The reason for the banning of the play was evident in a contemporary report that hints at James discomfort at its being performed
Did the unknown writer…succeed in exposing King James in the same manner in which Hamlet had exposed King Claudius with the staging of The Mousetrap the play within a play..? (p. 6)
[It] is surely reasonable to see a connection between this earlier Scottish play [Tragedy of Gowrie] with which Shakespeare was almost certainly involved…and the other Scottish play [Macbeth] on which Shakespeare began to work on almost immediately afterward. (p. 6)
If this is so it is difficult to see the sinister conspiracies unfolding in Macbeth without seeing the shadow of the Gowrie conspiracy looming ominously in the background. (p. 6)
OUTLINE FOR INTRODUCTION:
Identify the play:
General theme: Unchecked ambition and power can destroy a person and those surrounding him/her.
Identify the argument:
Video claim. (See Section I of Research Notes)
Opposing claim (See Section II of Research Notes)
Identify the purpose of your essay:
Present both sides of the argument with evidence.
Analyze/Evaluate the evidence
You will decide which side has the stronger argument and agree with. (**Dont tell us your decision just yet–wait for Section III)
In the Flippin English video Introduction to Macbeth the narrator claims that William Shakespeare wrote the play as a concession to King James I for his protection and patronage. His reasons are simple stating that Shakespeare targets James’ interests in the play. However there are many other scholars who disagree stating that this play about how unchecked ambition and power can destroy a person and those surrounding him is actually a political insult to James and his Scottish heritage. both sides of the argument will be presented and the evidence examined. Following that a decision will be made as to who has the stronger argument.
[The paragraph is unedited. There are grammar and punctuation errors!! You may paraphrase this for your own work but DO NOT copy me word for word.]
BODY SECTION I
The videos claim that Macbeth is written as a compliment is supported by the idea that Shakespeare targets King James interests. First the playwright sets the play in Scotland using Scottish history knowing that the new King of England was also the King of Scotland. And Along with the historical facts inspiring the play Shakespeare focuses on one particular character Banquo and portrays him in a positive light as a man who would father a line of kings. It is this family line that King James himself is a descendant. Additionally the plays climax is actually when Banquo and his son Fleance are attack and Banquo is killed. Instead of focusing on the murder of King Duncan Shakespeare wants King James to watch in suspense as Banquo dies a righteous man and his son escapes. What better way to compliment a king than by paying tribute to his great great great great grandfather?
According to the video King James also has a fascination with witches and sorcery which accounts for the three weird sisters. And according to history King James had an attention deficit what we would call ADD today so Macbeth is Shakespeares shortest play of length. Flippin English claims that Shakespeare’s flattery worked because the King would become their patron and the acting troupe would change their name from Lord Chamberlains Men to the Kings Men. Oh and dont forget Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both come to painful bitter deaths as a result for killing a king. This neatly completes the tragedy and teaches the public that life punishes individuals who commit regicide.
[I decided to make BODY SECTION I two paragraphs because of the length of the single paragraph and shift in details from the kings family ancestry to James personally.]
This should be more than enough to get you started.. Dont forget:::
BODY Section II. The opposing argument
BODY Section III: YOUR analysis YOUR opinions and YOUR choice of which side is correct. INCLUDE REASONS
ALL SECTIONS DUE Tom