With Reference to the four Kings in Macbeth discuss Shakespeare's view of Kingship
Macbeth was written and performed in 1606 at the time that James VI of Scotland came to the English throne as James I of England following the reign of Elizabeth I, thus forming the United Kingdom. This was at a time of great political upheaval and uncertainty in England and one particular issue was who Elizabeth's heir should be. Becoming king by divine right was of profound importance to James I due to the murder of both his parents. The questions of the role of a king and the attitudes and behaviours that they should display were particularly relevant to James. Shakespeare has written Macbeth with James in mind. In the play, Shakespeare shows that having divine right is very important for a king and his view of kingship can be seen through the characters of Duncan, Macbeth, Malcolm and Edward.
He illustrates how king's subjects feel about their leaders. He details the characteristics of the leaders, both good and bad, and analyses their actions as kings.
James I was interested in witchcraft and had written a book, Daemonolgy, on this topic. Shakespeare writes about three witches in the play who are depicted as malevolent forces who seek to overcome good with evil. They are symbols of wickedness, which man can choose to resist, however we see in the play Macbeth being susceptible to the influence of the witches and choosing, against his better judgement, to commit murder. Shakespeare is showing Macbeth to be unworthy because of his association and dependence on the witches and he implies that a 'true' king would be able to resist this evil force.
Macbeth is based on the history of the Scottish King Duff who was murdered in 967 A.D.