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William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth shortly after James I took the throne and ushered in the beginning of the Stuart dynasty. This was an uncertain time, as many in England questioned the new king's dedication to the Anglican Church and his Scottish connections. As the other educator mentions, there were even...

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William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth shortly after James I took the throne and ushered in the beginning of the Stuart dynasty. This was an uncertain time, as many in England questioned the new king's dedication to the Anglican Church and his Scottish connections. As the other educator mentions, there were even attempts on the king's life. King James was therefore very concerned with the themes of royal legitimacy and the social implications of regicide, two topics that constitute the main focus of Macbeth.

Shakespeare was a supporter of King James. In many ways, Macbeth was written with him in mind. The play shows the chaos and tyranny that results when the rightful king is murdered. It also holds Banquo up as the progenitor of a long line of rightful monarchs. As the witches tell him, "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none" (I.3.68). James I claimed descent from Banquo, and therefore, Shakespeare is saying that the establishment of the Stuart dynasty was the result of divine fate.

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In assessing Macbeth, it's important to examine the wider political context in which the play was written. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606, a year after a group of conspirators had tried to blow up Parliament and wipe out the king and the entire political establishment. The would-be terrorists were all apprehended, brutally tortured, and executed.

If there's one message that Shakespeare is trying to convey in Macbeth, it's the dangers of excessive ambition to the peace and stability of a kingdom. Guy Fawkes and his coconspirators in the Gunpowder Plot took drastic action to get rid of a monarch they despised, showing complete recklessness and disregard for human life. Macbeth doesn't resort to such pyrotechnics, but he does show excessive ambition that plunges Scotland into a full-scale political crisis. Macbeth serves as a warning to any potential regicide thinking of completing the job left unfinished by Guy Fawkes and his gang.

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