Your Story III: Macbeth

This is the fourth entry in the “Your Story” series – I know my numbering is off. What this is all about, can be read here. I won’t deny that this challenge was a little bit more difficult. My first thoughts were about a re-telling of Macbeth, but apparently that wasn’t what was requested. Instead, it is a story that focuses just on the three characters named. I’m not sure whether it can really compete with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but I hope you like it anyway.

What I got:

Having seen you succeeding in such a way, the next challenge will be the characters of a well known play. Can you rewrite the story in the people’s minds?

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Elements: Duncan, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

Start!

The story idea:

In the late 14th century, Scotland mostly defines itself by being “not England”. The national identity rests on this simple fact and allows every Scot to be proud of not being ruled by the English kings. But the dynasty of the Scottish kings is the only thing that stands between Scotland and English rule, for everyone knows that only the king’s line stops the rival factions in Scotland from quarrelling – and those inner struggles would certainly lead to another English invasion.

King Robert III knows all this. And since he is getting old and his time on this earth is limited, he must make sure that his only son, Macbeth, will be able to be as strong a ruler as he was. But Macbeth has little interest in ruling the country. He has had a happy youth and has grown extremely attached to his childhood friend Duncan. More attached, in fact, than is suitable for an heir to the throne. Not only is Duncan his best friend and only confidante, he is also Macbeth’s lover. The king and his court know this, although everyone pretends to be unaware of the crown prince’s sexual orientation.

Because King Robert III knows that his line must not fail, he consults with his son about the matter. Despite all his flaws (i.e. his disinterest in governing the country), Macbeth is not an unreasonable man and certainly not stupid. He understands his father and his wish that he should find a woman to marry, so that nobody would doubt his suitability as a king. And as luck has it, a woman of some social standing in the land is willing to enter into the charade and marry Macbeth. She is the only daughter of the King’s eldest friend and has always had a soft spot in her heart for Macbeth, who is an exemplary gentleman in every way.

And so not long after the decision is reached, she becomes Lady Macbeth and trouble seems to be stopped. Duncan serves the crown prince and secretly shares his bed, while the marriage stems the rumours of Macbeth sexuality. For a while, everything seems to be working out perfectly.

But when King Robert III is on his deathbed, he confronts Macbeth with what he always knew had to be done. Macbeth must sire a child, or else the line of Scottish kings will come to a premature end. This revelation, as expected as it was, plunges Macbeth into emotional turmoil. He considers his opinions and doesn’t like any of them. He doesn’t want to injure Duncan’s trust and their relationship by laying with Lady Macbeth and siring an heir to the throne. But he also doesn’t want another man to become father to the next king – he also doesn’t know what Lady Macbeth, who so far has played her role exemplary, would think of this suggestion.

When the old King dies and Macbeth succeeds him on the throne, he still has found no solution to his problem. But he knows that it was high time he had an heir, because doubt about his person has once again crept up. In his trouble, he decides to speak with Lady Macbeth first, being too afraid to raise the issue with Duncan. Lady Macbeth has already anticipated the situation and declares that her undying devotion to the King would lead her to go along with whatever plan he makes. This being not very helpful, Macbeth spends weeks brooding over the issue, thereby slowly alienating Duncan, because he won’t tell him what is on his mind. In the end he decides to make sure to continue the royal lineage himself and for a couple of months he returns to his old, merrier self.

But when Duncan finds out about Lady Macbeths pregnancy, he is shocked by Macbeth’s betrayal. Angrily he confronts him, but Macbeth’s logical reasoning does not reach him. He is outraged and states that there can be no reconciliation. On the next day, he has left the royal castle.

Macbeth once more starts to brood. He misses Duncan terribly and at first spends whole weeks looking for him all over Scotland, always leaving on some pretext. But when months pass and there is no sign of Duncan, he spends more and more time alone, shut up in his bedroom and simply refusing to go about his duties. Not even the birth of his son, who is named after his grandfather, can cheer him up. Years go by and the only reason that Scotland does not fall to English rule is the artful ruling by Lady Macbeth. In her husband’s withdrawal, she has taken up the reign of ruler more and more. Together with many advisors she manages to deceive everyone into believing that Macbeth is still the good king he once was. And slowly young Robert grows up.

One fateful night, Duncan returns to the castle. He once again confronts Macbeth with his treachery and accuses him of ruining his life. But while Macbeth hopes for the best, Duncan kills himself during the next night. The King is grieved beyond belief and not long after this also takes his own life, leaving his underage son and faithful wife to deal with the issues of Scotland.

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One Response to “Your Story III: Macbeth”

  1. Martin sagt:

    what should I say more than: awesome! Now I’m convinced that you ARE the master of story-telling.

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