Macbeth - Kingship

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The role of the king in Medieval society was blessed by God and enjoyed almost divine status. The King embodied the moral and social welfare of his subjects and, with this in mind, the theme of Kingship can easily be understood. In the play kingship is so significant a theme that Shakespeare presents four versions of it. Firstly, there is the begin, almost ideal kingship of Duncan, whose murder constitutes the perversion of this ideal. This is followed by the tyrannical reign of the usurper Macbeth. King Edward, though an indirect character, he represents the opposite to Macbeth's reign of terror, Edward's represents the capacity for absolute goodness. Finally, speculation remains as to Malcolm’s potential as future King of Scotland. Although a work in process he is the ‘sovereign flower’ and Macbeth is seen as the weed. "Gracious Duncan" is the first example of a benign and worthy King. From his introduction in Act 1 Scene 2 to his untimely death in Act 2 Scene 2, Duncan appears to have been the ideal King, who exemplified the "King becoming graces". He is admired by his subjects for his justice, gratitude, generosity and compassion. He is generous in his praise of those whom he feels have served him well, in particular Macbeth, "O worthiest cousin/ More is thy due than more all can pay." However, he is not entirely without fault, his weakness is displayed in his overly-trusting nature that leads to his death. The trust he places in others is noble in a King. Duncan's murder, therefore, is unnatural, a crime against the course of nature. Yet nevertheless does this stop Macbeth, and he commits regicide and succeeds to the throne as a usurper but no sooner has he killed Duncan does he wish him alive again showing his inner turmoil and guilt as a reluctant criminal ‘wake Duncan with thy knocking, i would thou couldst’. Macbeth's unlawful accession to the thrown upsets the natural order ‘by the clock ‘tis day, and yet dark night strangles...
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