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Davenant’s adaptation of Macbeth is arguably more demonstrative of the positive attributes of sovereignty than Shakespeare’s. He completely alters the language of the play dispelling any sense of what once could be suggested as ambiguous to assert the divine right of kingship. Davenant’s language became more focused on the body politic and demonstrates an understanding that the theatre has an effect on the audience as he rearranges positive and negative descriptive words around the characters to assert the notion that one character is morally good and the other is overtly evil. He associates Macbeth with the language of disease and madness emitting all mention of God from his dialogue. During Act IV Scene I, Macbeth can only invoke the language of sickness when attempting to heal his wife of her failing mind and guilt. He says, ‘She does from Duncan’s death to ficknefs grieve, / And fhall from Malcolm’s death her health receive/ When by a Viper bitten, nothing’s good/ To cure the venom but a Viper’s blood’ (Davenant, Macbeth, 1674. 50). In comparison, within Shakespeare’s Macbeth on hearing of his wife’s ill health Macbeth implores the doctor to, ‘Raze out the written troubles of the brain, / And with some sweet oblivious antidote/ Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff/ Which weighs upon the heart?’ (Shakespeare, Macbeth. 1992. 95). The differences between the language here is exemplary of the negative distinguishing characters that Davenant places on the character of Macbeth within his adaptation. As we can see Davenant eradicates any idea of a ‘sweet oblivious antidote’ (Shakespeare, 95) and instead incorporates the image of a ‘Viper’ (Davenant, 50). Jean Marsden comments that Davenant appropriated ‘whole scenes from the original […] but the words themselves are [his] own. […] Complex passages of [Shakespeare’s] figurative language were frequently omitted or reconstructed, containing, as they do verbal ambiguities which in turn promote ambiguities in character or thought’ (The Re-Imagined Text, 1995. 17-18). Shakespeare’s ambiguous rhetoric is completely gone within Davenant’s adaptation and Macbeth’s moral character is now made obvious by the negative dialogue that Davenant has created. By distancing the Macbeths away from any sort of association of medical healing and enlisting only negative syntax within their dialogue Davenant is also demonstrating, more overtly, the James I ideology that a true King would exhibit thaumaturgic powers. A King, according to James I’s True Lawe, would demonstrate the capability of a saint being able to perform some miracles. James repeatedly returns to the ide
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