Deception In Shakespeare's Macbeth And The Gunpowder Plot

Better Essays
Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Gunpowder Plot Authors often use their works to comment on political and social issues of their lifetime. During the 17th century, William Shakespeare began his career in Protestant England. In this time, the Gunpowder Plot occurred against the government as tensions rose around religion and legislation. Shakespeare brings utilizes characters and deception in Macbeth to bring attention to the Gunpowder Plot’s faults and inform the people of his innocence in the plot. The Gunpowder Plot occurred in 1605 and was a plot to blow up English Parliament and King James I. On November 5th, King James I was to open Parliament (Adams). The purpose behind the plot was to bring attention to the laws against the practice…show more content…
King Duncan in Macbeth represents King James I. As King Duncan was tricked by Macbeth, whom he trusted, King James I was tricked by his people that he protected. The Catholic’s treason to their country is represented by Macbeth’s deception of King Duncan. When Francis Tresham warned his brother-in-law, it is similar to the witches warning Banquo and Macbeth of their fates. Jesuit Priest Henry Garnet concealed knowledge of the conspiracy and became the great "equivocator" before he was hanged. Father Garnet wrote A Treatise of Equivocation to tell Catholics how to conceal their faith (Trial). Shakespeare alludes to Father Garnet in Macbeth with the Porter. The Porter drunkenly speaks of the people who will greet you at the gates of hell, "Faith, here's an equivocator/that could swear in both the scales against either scale..." (Shakespeare II.ii. 7-8) Father Garnet also insisted he lied for the conspirators for God's sake, to which the Porter speaks of also in Macbeth (Huntley).The Porter describes the equivocator, "Who committed treason enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator" (Shakespeare II.ii. 8-10). Shakespeare also uses a theme of equivocation in Macbeth, by characters repeatedly concealing the truth. For example, Macbeth is brought to his death by the witches insinuating that Macbeth is safe. They claim, “None of woman born/…show more content…
The Gunpowder Plot secured suspicion and complications to Catholics in England for multiple years to follow. Macbeth represented what would have occurred if the conspirators successfully blew up Parliament on November 5th. As Macbeth wanted to murder the King and everyone in his way to gain the throne, the conspirators wanted to murder the people in their way to gain respect and tolerance for their religion. Like Fleance, Banquo’s son who escapes murder from Macbeth, King James I escapes murder from the conspirators, providing support for King James’ belief to be a descendant of Banquo. Shakespeare uses this to flatter his dynasty, claiming his line as true rulers and descendants of royalty (Bryant). Macbeth is used by Shakespeare to show the irony of the Gunpowder Plot. The conspirators created the plot to freely practice their religion, yet planned to murder people, which, in most cases, is probably not the holiest of acts. The irony in Macbeth is that he plans to kill people in power to gain power, yet the same brings him to his demise. Macbeth is not only an entertaining work, but a historical telling of social and political issues of 17th century Protestant England. By utilizing deception, themes of equivocation, and allusions, Shakespeare attempted to show he was innocent and loyal
Get Access