How might the education of men and women during the Jacobethan age affect "Macbeth"?

Expert Answers
robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting question - and not one I can think of the obvious answer to. I'm not sure, and I'm not sure anyone will be able to tell you, precisely what was taught in Jacobean schools. But there are two key sets of beliefs which certainly were present in the culture which can be brought to bear on an analysis of "Macbeth".

Firstly is the Jacobethan belief in witches. They thought that witches could fly, could make herbal potions and were agents of the devil, and during Elizabeth's reign over 270 witches were tried - most of them were hanged. Obviously, the presence of hte witches in the play and their supernatural influence over Macbeth - flying daggers, apparitions, and predictions et al - clearly would resonate far more with an audience who were genuinely terrified of witches. And, for evidence that this belief went right to the heart of culture of the day, the sitting king when the play was written, James I, actually wrote a book about witchcraft entitled "Daemonologie".

Secondly, the divine right of kings. Kings were considered to be god's agents on Earth, and to kill the king was not just a mortal crime, but a crime against god and against Christianity. Duncan's murder, to the contemporary audience, would have been a major, horrific sin - and Macbeth's ensuing tragedy would have seemed an almost inevitable response.

Hope it helps!