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Shakespeare and the real Macbeth

Alex Johnstone MSP wants to "re-visit" Macbeth to prove he was not the evil despot as portrayed by Shakespeare ("Bid to restore reputation of 'evil' Macbeth", The Herald, February 11).

Shakespeare was a playwright, not a historian. As Mr Johnstone admits in his proposed motion, Shakespeare was writing to please his new master of his theatrical company The King's Men: the clue is in the title.

He was pleasing his new master and introducing characters, namely Banquo, Macduff, Fleance, and their legendary connection with the Stuarts, who have no sure place in history.

The only reason Macbeth is noted at all in history is because of historical fiction. Take that away and you have just another vague despot who existed sometime in the 11th century. All kings of the medieval period were despots. There are always apologists trying to prove the opposite and in this Macbeth's case it has been declared his reign was one of order and prosperity.

This may or may not have some semblance of truth but to introduce such plaudits on Macbeth takes away the excitement and interest in the Shakespeare version. Long live Wullie and forget truth!

Kenneth Stanton,


North Road,


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