I need an explanation for how Macbeth is a social-historical play.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play "Macbeth" first appeared on stage during the new reign of James I, after the death of Queen Elizabeth. James had been the king of Scotland before being chosen to be both the king of Scotland and England. James traced his lineage through the line of Banquo and thus, this play correctly refers to history when the witches predict Banquo's descendants will be kings. Most of the characters in the play were real historical persons. In fact, when Macbeth goes back to the witches the second time, he is shown three apparitions. In one of them, a procession of kings is shown on stage carrying images of kings. One of the images was purportedly the image of James. This was Shakespeare's way of impressing James, whose patronage he wanted after the death of Elizabeth. In addition, the play is about having a correct line of succession. This would also indicate that James was the correct choice for king after Queen Elizabeth left no heirs. The play also shows what happens to a country when the wrong monarch steals the throne. Thus, socially and historically, the play demonstrates the correctness of James' rule.