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Was Macbeth a Figment of Shakespeare’s Imagination?

“When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain? When the hurlyburly ‘s done, When the battle ‘s lost and won.” (Act I, Scene I)

Macbeth, William Shakespeare

Reading the above quote may have sent shivers down your spine and given you a ‘flashback’ of your high school and/or college literature class. Don’t worry. You won’t be tested on Shakespeare’s Macbeth or forced to try out for the school play. But there’s a question that begs asking: Have you ever wondered if Macbeth was a figment of the bard’s imagination or real? After all, he is one of his most illustrious characters ever created. Could it be possible that Macbeth lived centuries ago? Read on to find out.

Was Macbeth Real or Only a Character?

Not only is Macbeth an epic character, but a real person – an 11th century king of Scotland (1040-1057) who was ruler of The Mormaerdom or Kingdom of Moray. It’s placed at the lower Spey Valley, around Inverness, northern portion of Great Glen, and possibly Buchan, Mar, and Ross. However, Shakespeare’s play may not paint an accurate, historical picture of the king. For example, in the bard’s drama, Macbeth’s manipulative wife baits him into committing acts that set off a horrific chain of events which eventually lead to their demise. But the reality is that Macbeth’s lineage goes back to Malcom I – he had a genuine claim to be king and fought King Duncan on the battlefield for it.

Another discrepancy with Shakespeare’s play is the amount of time Macbeth ruled. In the play, he only ruled for 10 weeks. In reality, he ruled for 17 years.

There seems to be a mystery surrounding the truth about Lady Macbeth, with the exception of her name, Gruoch. She was the granddaughter of Malcom II and her marriage to Macbeth lasted 24 years. She had a son named Lulach from a previous marriage; he ruled for some time after Macbeth died.

If you’ve read or acted in Macbeth, you know that he suffers a violent death. But this is not a historical fact. Macbeth is not slain by MacDuff at a battle near Dunsinane due to the invasion of Alba lead by Earl Siward of Northumbria. The latter part is true; however, Siward was partners with Malcolm Canmore, son of Duncan. Macbeth was defeated but ruled for another three years before being cut down by Malcom’s sword.

Travel to Scotland and Trace the Footsteps of Macbeth

Now that you know the “real” Macbeth, why not trace his footstep with an escorted coach tour like an 8 Day Scottish Dream vacation? Tour highlights include a visit to Glamis Castle, the setting of Macbeth. While he never resided here, that doesn’t mean you won’t experience chills. A visit to Duncan’s Hall, named for the fictional murder, will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

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Perhaps you’d prefer to trace Macbeth’s footsteps through a Chauffeur Drive and Group Travel option. For example, you could stay at the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness [Shakespeare places Macbeth’s castles and the murder of King Duncan here.] Visit the ground of Inverness Castle but don’t expect to find Macbeth. His father most likely had a hill fort that was located at Auldcastle, now Auldcastle Road.

You’ll want to travel north via Fort William and take “Road to the Isles” through Scotland’s gorgeous scenery; stop for a photo at the Glenfinnan Monument. Head to Mallaig and take the ferry to the Isle of Skye, sometimes referred to as the “Misty Isle” because of the cloudy weather from the carried by the Atlantic winds. While you’re visiting, make time to see the commanding and eerie landscape known as the Quiraing. It’s here that Macbeth is given the title, Thane of Cawdor. Lady Macbeth journeys through the terrain, too.

A Scottish tour would not be complete without seeing the haunts of Macbeth. Let CIE Tours create a vacation package for you that’s worthy of a king or queen. If you haven’t traveled to Scotland before, an escorted coach tour or chauffeur driven travel is ideal. Why? Because your travel agent knows the best places to stay and points of interest to see and can ensure that your itinerary suits your travel needs. Sound good? We think so!

Amandah Blackwell by Amandah T. Blackwell, Savvy-Writer




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