Macbeth Setting, Castle & Time Period

Macbeth Setting, Castle & Time Period
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  • 0:00 Shakespeare's Scottish Play
  • 0:21 The Time Period of ''Macbeth''
  • 1:21 Castles
  • 2:02 Dunsinane Hill and Birnam Wood
  • 2:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Bostock
This lesson covers the unique setting of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, 'Macbeth.' Learn about the different castles and locations in which the action of 'Macbeth' takes place. Then, quiz yourself.

Shakespeare's Scottish Play

It's easy to identify the setting and scenery of a movie or television show. All it takes is a camera shot. However, in the time of William Shakespeare, settings of plays were merely mentioned. There were no castles or towers built onto the stage, so audience members had to imagine the scenery using Shakespeare's words.

The Time Period of Macbeth

-William Shakespeare's Macbeth is set mainly in 11th-century Scotland, with a couple of short scenes set in England. The character of Macbeth reigns over Scotland from 1040 to 1057. It was the only play Shakespeare ever set in Scotland. It is speculated that Shakespeare chose Scotland as the setting as a way to pay homage to England's new ruler, King James I, who also was King James VI of Scotland. King James of England came to the throne in 1603, and Macbeth is believed to have been written around 1605 or 1606. Additionally, King James was so fond of Shakespeare's acting troupe, The Chamberlains Men, that he took them under his patronage and they were renamed The King's Men.

Although the play is set in the 11th century, Shakespeare, who was not concerned with historical accuracy, added many contemporary events to this play, including the Gun Powder Plot of 1605, which was an assassination attempt on King James I. These historical liberties didn't seem to bother his audience much, either.


There are many castle settings in The Tragedy of Macbeth. Macbeth, an ambitious general who wants to be King, lives with his wife, Lady Macbeth at Castle Inverness in Northern Scotland. Inverness is also the location where Macbeth and his wife kill Duncan, the elderly King of Scotland.

Castle Forres is King Duncan's home in Scotland. Early in the play, King Duncan has a military camp very close to the castle as he and his men fight off Norwegian invaders. Once Duncan is murdered, the new King Macbeth and his wife move to Forres. Castle Fife is the home of Macduff, a nobleman who despises Macbeth. Castle Fife is also located in Scotland and is the location where Macbeth has Macduff's wife and son murdered.

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