How far did William Shakespeare manipulate historical facts for dramatic effect in MacBeth? Although Shakespeare based his play MacBeth on "The Chronicles of Scottish History"ÃÂ by Rafaell Holinshed, he did not entirely follow the straight facts. Many scenes and characters were either invented or altered in some fashion. The point of this essay is to explain and differentiate the historical truths, and Shakespeare's input in this play.
The play is actually based on two different events, according to Holinshed's Chronicles. The first event occurred in 967, when a man called Donwald murdered King Duff of Scotland. This was because King Duff murdered many nobles on the suspicions of witchcraft. Donwald, whose friends had been murdered, began to resent King Duff, and with the help of his wife, had the king murdered at Forres by his servants. Shakespeare took many ideas surrounding Duff's death, and added them to his play.
The second event was when MacBeth seized the throne in 1040, after killing his cousin, King Duncan MacCrinan. The reason for this was because Duncan named his heir; his son Malcolm III. MacBeth, who envisioned himself as king, felt very upset. In 1039, Ducan, lead a war against the Norwegian Earl of Orkney. MacBeth, who was a commander in Duncan's army, joined forces with Thorfinn of Norway, and caused Duncan to be murdered at Bothgowan. Then through his wife, he managed to claim the throne, for she of royal descent. He reigned for 17 years, when Malcolm III, eldest son of Duncan, murdered MacBeth, and wore the crown for only a few months. The only fact in the entire play that can be accounted for as the total truth is that MacBeth murdered King Duncan.
Shakespeare's interpretations of these two facts are totally wrong from a historical...