For centuries William Shakespeare has been considered one of the most talented and well know playwrights in history. Shakespeare is known for his powerful stories and twisting plots. Many of his thirty-eight plays have been translated into every major modern language and are performed more often than the work of any other playwright. Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth has stirred up a lot of controversy over its historical accuracy. To understand this tragedy, there has to be a clear understanding of that a thane was and what their jobs were.A thane (or theign) was an assistant to the king. The responsibilities of the thane ranged from many different jobs.
Most often the thane would assist the king with one of two duties, helping around the household or assisting with running the country. As a thane you were considered one of the kings noble men and were usually granted a generous piece of land. One interesting fact about the royal hierarchy of these times is that the king was not chosen by being part of the royal family. The king was determined by who could best run the country.This offers the thanes and other members of the royal party the opportunity to one-day rule the country. (The Thegn Anglo-Saxon Sword) In the tragedy, Macbeth is a Thane who has become hungry for power. Though Macbeth portrays many characters from real life, when examined, the play is loosely based on facts.
Shakespeare took the true events and transformed it into a more entertaining supplement by using his creativity. In the play, Macbeth is the Thane of Cawdor and Thane of Glamis, however, historical documentation claims that Macbeth was neither of these.Shakespeare’s Macbeth is crowned these titles after a visit from three mysterious witches.
Historical documentation suggests that Macbeth was actually a royal earl. The royal earn is a position that is even more powerful than that of a thane. One of the highest points in Shakespeare’s tragedy is when Macbeth, the main character, kills King Duncan. In Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth murders King Duncan in his sleep, whereas according to history Macbeth kills Duncan in a battle.
After his victory Macbeth rose to power, in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth didn’t even rule a full year; when in actuality Macbeth was a successful ruler for over 15 years. Macbeth is not the only historical anomaly though. Luke Culleny. King Duncan in Macbeth was portrayed as a noble king that was appreciated by everyone, this veers far off course from his actual counterpart. In history, King Duncan was a very bad ruler, he led several attacks that had disastrous endings.
Macbeth led an attack against King Duncan in an attempt to save their faltering country. (Duncan and Macbeth – Kings of Scotland, and Shakespeare’s play Macbeth) The relationship between England and Scotland during these dark ages was one of disagreement. Scotland at the time was under English rule and the Scottish people were fighting for their independence. This outraged England and lessened their views of Scotland, which most likely led to the inconsistencies in historical documentation.England had a very bias report of the events, England thrived for a leader that would not try to break free from their rule. Overall, Shakespeare put his creative ability to use and altered his characters as needed to ensure that this tragedy would have gripping storyline.
The barrage of assumptions about its accuracy is understandable, however Macbeth was written to be a play and not a textbook. He has succeeded in every aspect; his play has been entertaining people for over five centuries and will always remain one of the most brilliant tragedies in history.