Macbeth for King James
It has been written many times that Macbeth was converted from its original form to please King James I. It is suggested that Shakespeare altered certain themes and characters before the first public performance and things were even added during a special performance at the King's Court.
King James I succeeded Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. He was a member of the Stuart dynasty and already the King of Scotland. Macbeth may have been performed before him in 1606.
BANQUO In the "Chronicles Of England, Scotland and Ireland", Holinshed included a family tree of the Stuart dynasty, showing King James's descent from Banquo. In Holinshed's book Banquo was an accomplice in Duncan's murder. This was changed in the play, presumably to please King James who hated regicides (king-killers). Macbeth has a stage direction during the apparitions scene - "A show of eight kings, and the last with a glass in his hand; Banquo's Ghost following". James was the ninth Stuart monarch and in the performance to the King, the last held the glass (mirror) up to James' face making him part of that group. The truth is that Banquo never existed. He was invented as a source of Stuart royalty.
WITCHCRAFT King James's was interested in witchcraft. There is a story that Shakespeare intended the Weird Sisters to be wood spirits a little like the fairies in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". How true this is we will never know.
THE GUNPOWDER PLOT On 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes and a group of conspirators attempted to blow up parliament. The plot is referred to in the play. Act 2 Scene 3; line 50 "dire combustion". One of the conspirators, Everand Digby, was a favourite of the King. Shakespeare may have intended Cawdor as Digby. Macbeth may be in part of an analogy of the Gunpowder Plot, in the same way the film "Soldier Blue" is about the Vietnam Mai Li Massacre.
EQUIVOCATION Henry Garnet, a Catholic priest, was accused of treason for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot. He was found to have committed perjury, but claimed to have the right to equivocate (tell deliberately misleading half-truths) in self-defence. Equivocation is a major theme of the play.
Was Shakespeare writing his production to please King James? Or was it just his way of making satirical points about recent events?