How does one work up motivation to write an English essay on Macbeth that they don’t want to do? 😪

Find a point of interest in the character.

That play was written during the reign of James I, Elizabeth’s nephew. And it was actually important for one tiny, yet seldom discussed element that only ever appears if the director was savvy to the political climate of the time.

Would you like me to tell you? Of course you would.

Keep in mind that Elizabeth I was in a long line of upstarts who had trouble establishing a link to the “true line of Kings”. Look up Henry Tudor and how he came to the throne. Then read about the Pope’s difficulties and decrees against Henry VIII when he wanted to divorce his wife, split from Catholicism to do it…and married Elizabeth’s mother Anne Boleyn. James I’s mother was Mary Queen of Scots, who many believed was the rightful, Catholic heir to the English throne…in fact, the reason she was put to death by Elizabeth was for being involved in a papist plot to assassinate Elizabeth and take the throne. So when Elizabeth died childless and named her nephew James as the heir, the Scottish king who united the crowns and created The United Kingdom…well he had a bit of trouble convincing anyone he had a right to rule England.

At the time Macbeth was written, Burbage’s acting troop was beneath the patronage of the King. You’ll notice there is an instant in which Macbeth is given a glimpse of the future, of all the Kings that will proceed from his reign.

The last of that parade of kings was James I.

The artist appealing to his patron by establishing his legitimacy in the mind of the common man, for whom that play was performed.

So how do you write an essay about something? You find the fascinating bit and you tell the story. And then you think about all that it might have meant, implied, demonstrated about the time, the politics, the place of art in history, and so on.

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