Though William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth is primarily a work of fiction, the story was inspired by a real Scottish historical figure of the same name, and the two share both similarities and differences in how their story plays out. One key similarity the two share is how they gain and lose their position of king of Scotland. In 1040, Macbeth “…took the throne after killing his cousin, King Duncan 1, in battle” (Macbeth). Quite similarly, in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth assassinates King Duncan while he is sleeping to give himself the chance to be king. Other similarities found between the two are the names of the others involved in his story; Malcolm and Siward defeat him in battle, and he kills King Duncan. Shakespeare’s play was not a direct retelling of this story, however, causing some differences between the two. One major difference is in Macbeth’s character. In real life, “Macbeth MacFindlaech was not the murderous, terrible character of William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth”. There is also a big difference in Macbeth defeat in battle. In the play, Malcom’s forces sneak to Macbeth’s castle and attack, defeating Macbeth’s disloyal army and killing Macbeth. However, historically, the conflict was somewhat of a stalemate, becoming a war that lasted three years until Macbeth lost important allies. To conclude, Shakespeare clearly wanted to tell the story of the historical figure Macbeth, and although the story he tells is the same in general, he did make a few key differences in order to create a Shakespearean tragedy out of the events.
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