Macbeth and the Jacobean Scot

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In Macbeth, the Jacobean Scot, and the Politics of the Union, Sharon Alker and Holly Faith Nelson demonstrate a well-informed opinion of the relation between the idea of the Jacobian Scot and it’s arguable relation, or lack thereof, to William Shakespeare’s Elizabethan play, Macbeth. Though many scholars find it easy to draw a connection between the traditional Jacobian Scot that was typically presented in Elizabethan plays during the Jacobian era, Alker and Nelson seek to highlight the ambiguous nature of the play by demonstrating the various ways in which it can be read and/or interpreted. Not only this, but Alker and Nelson also manage to shed light on the conflicting aspects of Macbeth in relation to it’s connection with Jacobean ideas and portrayals of Scots at the time.

At the time that Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, is thought to have been performed in 1606, a huge change was making it’s way across what we now refer to as Great Britain. During this time, the former king of Scotland, James VI, became the king of England as a result of the Union of Crowns, following the death of his cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. This union caused much friction between Scotland and England, as many English felt imposed upon and thought the Scottish to be inferior and somewhat barbaric in their ways. Due to the attitudes of many English people towards the Scottish during the Elizabethan era, the Scottish were most often characterized as people who were opposed to what was thought to be “legitimate” authority by the English, along with being represented as lesser than and in need of subordination to the English. The typical ‘stage Scot’ was often portrayed as dualistic, lacking in loyalty, and intrusive of other’s property in their relentless ambitions for power.

However, there were three different views regarding the union of England and Scotland. One English view thought that English systems and such should be most prevalent across Britain, while another view...
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