A short introduction to the classic play Macbeth in the form of five interesting facts
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s very best plays. Here are some of our favourite bits of trivia about ‘the Scottish play’. (Those who wish to learn more about Shakespeare might like our list of the top ten best books about Shakespeare.)
1. Lady Macbeth’s real name was Gruoch and Macbeth’s real name was Mac Bethad mac Findlaích. Many people know the story of Macbeth: the ambitious Thane of Cawdor, egged on by his wife who taunts him with jibes about his (insufficient) manliness and encouraged by the prophecy imparted to him by three witches, kills the Scottish king, Duncan, while Duncan is asleep in Macbeth’s own castle. Macbeth takes the crown for himself, and tyrannically rules Scotland until Macduff defeats him, killing Macbeth and enabling Duncan’s son Malcolm to be crowned King. But the story as told by Shakespeare is somewhat different from the historical truth. The real Macbeth killed Duncan in battle in 1040 and Macbeth (or Mac Bethad) actually went on to rule for 17 years, until he was killed and Macbeth’s stepson, known as Lulach the Idiot, became king (though he only ruled for less than a year – then Malcolm, as Malcolm III, took the crown). Unsurprisingly, the historical record is rather lacking in witches, and the idea of killing Duncan while the king was a guest in Macbeth’s own home was Shakespeare exercising his artistic licence.