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Macbeth a Play for our Time The Irony and Symbolism Such is the genius and so great is the scope of Shakespeares writings that there can be little doubt that a common perception is one of an imaginative mind concocting stories In fact Shakespeare had many sources and much of his work was based on historical fact Holinshed chronicled in the sixteenth century the histories of England Scotland and Ireland and it is from the Historie of Scotland that Shakespeare built significant parts of this drama For example the murder of King Duff and the insomnia born of guilt over the murder of a nephew suffered by King Kenneth are a matter of historical record Each is clearly incorporated into the drama and so is the way in which King Kenneth was influenced by his wife to sponsor the murder The historical record contains the belief of Macbeth in the prophecies of three wild women soothsayers who reinforced his ambitions for the throne records Banquhos sic role the subsequent murder of King Duncan and Macbeths paranoia concerning MacDuff sic The play Macbeth first published in 1623 wove these separate histories into a coherent whole No doubt Shakespeare pleaded poetic license The result is timeless Macbeth is a story of a man whos ambitions have brought him to commit treason and murder Visions of power grew within his head until his thirst for power causes him to lose that very source of his ambition to the blade of Macduffs sword It is the ironic and symbolic elements such as this in the play which contribute to much of the acceptance the work has enjoyed for centuries Three forms of irony may be found in the play Macbeth Dramatic irony being the difference between what the audience knows and what a character knows to be true Verbal Irony being a difference between what
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