Shakespeare and Kingship

1614 Words Oct 16th, 1999 7 Pages
In writing his history plays, Shakespeare was actually commenting on what he thought about the notion of kingship. Through his plays, he questions the divine right of kings, which the kings and the aristocracy used heavily in their favour to win the people's love. In Macbeth, King Richard II and King Henry IV part 1, Shakespeare shows us his opinion of kingship in general.

Although the plays are written about individual kings, I think that Shakespeare used the plays as an opportunity to voice his opinion on kings and kingship in general. This was assisted by the fact that he was not prohibited by the true events, because it is well known that all of Shakespeare's plays were written purely for entertainment value, not as a historical
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However, Macbeth has been tricked by the witches because MacDuff is able to kill him because he was "From his mother's womb | Untimely ripp'd"

Because of the witches' prophecies, Macbeth thought that he was assured the power of king, knowing that the only way he could be brought down was when "Great Birnam wood [comes to] to high Dunsinane hill" , something Macbeth was sure could not ever happen. He was also told that "none of woman born | Shall harm Macbeth" , and Macbeth did not think that it was possible that anyone could not have been born from a woman. Macbeth was told all these things by apparitions which the witches had shown him, and he believed them, probably because it was what he wanted to believe - that he could not be harmed by anyone, that his demise would never happen. Macbeth was so sure that he could not be defeated that he totally disregarded the people, killing people at a whim, and he did not ever think that they would go against him and eventually overthrow and kill him.

In Richard II, Richard totally ignores the common people, to an even larger extent than Macbeth did. The people came to hate Richard because he paid no attention at all to them, did nothing to support them and then bankrupted the entire country by spending money on his 'favourites', who were already rich aristocrats. The people resented this, and I think that Richard's total disregard for the common people allowed Bolingbroke to step in
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