To understand why the issue of kingship is so dominant a preoccupation in MacBeth, one must first be aware of Shakespeare's generation regarded the principle of monarchy. Moral Authority is the quality of being respected for having good character or knowledge. Legitimate is according to the law, illegitimate is not according to the law. In Shakespeare's time, the king was not simply a political leader endowed with absolute power, he was a man set apart from the rest, aligned on the "great chain of being" with Godhead. The chrism used to anoint the king endowed with secret attributes, he was God's deputy anointed on earth. Thus the fall of the king "the cease of majesty," had not only earthly but also cosmic repurcussions, "the heavens themselves do blaze forth the death of princes." MacDuff's reaction when he finds the murdered body of Duncan is to exclaim, "most sacriligeous murder hath broke ope/the lord's anointed temple." Regicide then, was no ordinary crime, it had about it an archetypal horror. The king then was a sacred figure, and the murder of the king took on the quality of sacrilege. Shakespeare's Duncan was above and beyond anything that can be said about him. Malcom described those God becoming graces in act 4 scene 3, "bounty, fortitude..." Duncan is not a fully rounded figure in any sesnse of the word. His role is that of a sacred figure. He represents honour and harmony. In Duncan's court, the world is a lot simpler, in today's world, we hear of heroism rewarded, deceiptfulness punished and of victory and courage in a just cause. Duncan, likewise Edward in England, are patriarchs, their subjects are extensions of their families, bound to them by reciprocal ties such as loyalty and honour. Duncan is the source of all benefits, he receives from his subjects free homage and dispenses to them riches and graces, which are the marks of true kingship. In the early scenes of the play, we are consistently reminded of the richly vital and...
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