History and literature often mirror each other, but sometimes there are inconsistencies with the truth. The play "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare is one instance of these inconsistencies. The play is riddled with false truths simply to add drama to the story. One of the only pieces of truth in "Macbeth" is that Macbeth overcame Duncan (Beckwith). The real history of the story of Macbeth and Shakespeare's versions are very different; Shakespeare changed his characters in order to make his story more enjoyable.
To begin the story of how Macbeth became king, we have one of the few truths presented. Macbeth seized the throne in the year 1040, just as history states. The manner in which he claimed the throne, however, is disputed in Shakespeare's story. Not only did Macbeth claim the throne for himself, but he also claimed it in the name of his wife. His wife was named Gruoch, not Lady Macbeth. History states he claimed the throne by killing Duncan, not assassinating him. This probably means that he defeated him in a field battle rather than killing the King in his sleep (Wells). "I have done the deed," (II, ii, 14) suggests he murdered Duncan, but he did not. This makes the most important part of the story a falsehood! The fact that Shakespeare edited the way Macbeth became King is a big deal.
Credit must be given to Shakespeare, however. He did do his research before writing the story. The difference is that Shakespeare used a lot of poetic license for much of the story (Wells). In addition, much of the "history" of Macbeth is interpretation, not fact. In researching, it is possible to find encyclopedias that make each other liars by having two different truths presented. Some say that Macbeth's name is associated with many "humane" laws in protecting women and children. This is far from the Macbeth portrayed in Shakespeare's play.
Along the same lines of how brutal Macbeth was, it is not known if Banquo was actually murdered by Macbeth.