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What is the social and cultural context of the play Macbeth?I have to write an...

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zippiiee | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 20, 2009 at 6:45 PM via web

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What is the social and cultural context of the play Macbeth?

I have to write an interpretation of the play and I need to understand those things.

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markchambers1966 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 21, 2009 at 6:23 PM (Answer #1)

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Culturally this is a Jacobean as opposed to an Elizabethan Play, written whilst James Ist was king of England. James had come from Scotland, where he was king previously, and so the Scottish theme may well have looked to please him. James also believed in witches writing a book, Demonology, in 1597 that promoted the view that witches were real. He had believed himself the subject of a plot by three witches to shipwreck him by stirring up storms, so there are running themes here that link to the ideas of James himself. The way we view these aspects of the play is different to how the contemporaries would have seen them. The play touches on long lasting social issues such as the greed for power, the corrupting nature of the quest for power, the way a cycle of violence only leads to more violence and the notion of ambition and the corrupting nature of it. This social context of the play is as relevant now as then and shows why the play retains such appeal.

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