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NOTES, EXAMINATION PAPERS, AND
PLAN OF PREPARATION
J. M. D. MEIKLEJOHN, M.A.
PROFESSOR OF THE THEORY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE OF EDUCATION
INTRODUCTION TO MACBETH.
1. The play of Macbeth belongs to the Shakespearian group known as his Later Tragedy, and was most probably written in the year 1606. Othello and King Lear were both written before Macbeth; and Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus, came after it. Dr Forman, a contemporary of Shakespeare's, saw it acted at the GLOBE, on the 20th of April 1610, and has left an account of the plot. It was printed for the first time in the folio of 1623. Shakespeare was forty-two years of age when he wrote this play, and at the full perfection of all his powers of thought and feeling.
2. The materials for the plot were obtained by Shakespeare from the Chronicle of Holinshed—which indeed was the only source of all his English and Scottish historical plays. But the appearance of the ghost of Banquo, and the terrible sleep-walking of Lady Macbeth, are inventions of his own. Shakespeare is said to have been in Scotland in 1601, and to have visited Forres
-a small town between Elgin and 'Inverness ; but this is not quite certain. It is said that some parts of this play were written by Middleton (1574-1627)—a contemporary of Shakespeare's ; and that the second scene of the first act, as well as the last forty lines of the play, are due to him. If this view is correct, it would account for the inconsistency between the two accounts of the death
of Lady Macbeth. 3. The amount of historical fact at the basis of the play, it is very difficult
and perhaps hardly necessary-to determine. At some time in the eleventh century, Macbeth seems to have been maormor or ruler over the whole of Ross and Moray; and to have been nearly related to the throne. His wife, Gruoch-an unpleasant name which the poet silently drops, calling her only Lady Macbeth throughout the play-was also related to the royal family; and both had been deeply injured by the faction which had placed Duncan on the throne. Macbeth did not kill Duncan in his own house : this would have been a violation of the laws