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How does Shakespeare create the magnitude and horror of what Macbeth does in murdering Duncan?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare create the magnitude and horror of what Macbeth does in murdering Duncan? The horror of murdering Duncan is most seen when Macduff enters to see Duncan's dead body. He immediately says "O horror! horror! horror! (II iii 64). This is evidence of horror because when this play was written the word 'horror' had a stronger effect than it has today. In addition to this, the word has been repeated many times in this line which shows the magnitude of the horror. The magnitude of the murder can also be seen as Macduff goes on to describe the act as the "Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope" (II iii 67). The murder is described as being unholy and his words emphasize that the murder of Duncan is more than ordinary. This shows the importance of kingship within this play as well. By attacking the king, Macbeth is attacking God. This is because the king is God's representative on earth. Furthermore, Duncan was a great king. He was identified by Malcolm as having the same healing qualities as Edward the Confessor. "To the succeeding royalty he leaves The healing benediction.| He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy" (IV iii 55-57) This shows that Duncan had these qualities as he was the rightful king of Scotland. Macbeth, however, does not have these qualities as he is not a rightful king. ...read more.

Middle

Another way in which Shakespeare creates horror is through lack of sleep. After Macbeth has conducted the murder of Duncan, he starts to experience sleepless nights. This can be seen in "Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!" (II ii 35). He has lost the ability to sleep because he killed Duncan in his sleep. Therefore he will never be able to sleep again as he suffers from the guilt of his actions. This is also the case for Lady Macbeth who was also involved in the murder of Duncan. In Act 5 scene 1 Lady Macbeth begins to sleepwalk. "This is her guise;| and, upon my life, fast asleep." (V i 18-19) Then, still a sleep, Lady Macbeth says "Wash your hands, put on your night-gown;| look not so pale" (V i 59-60) and "To bed, to bed: there's knocking at the gate." (V i 63) Both quotes show that Lady Macbeth is suffering from a guilty conscience as her mind is constantly re-living the night of Duncan's murder. They also show a destabilizing effect the murder has had on the mind of Lady Macbeth. However the great magnitude of horror is seen when Lady Macbeth screams in vain, "Oh! Oh! Oh!" (V i 50). We clearly see that she is very distressed because there is a significant change of tone in her tone. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is persuaded by the witches' prophecies which is what brings the horror from the witches. This is because it is the witches who predict that Macbeth will one day become King. This can be seen when they chant "All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be King hereafter."(I iii 50) Consequently the thought of this is what makes Macbeth murder Duncan. The stress that Macbeth feels about murdering Duncan can be seen in Macbeth's soliloquy in act 2 scene 1. He uses powerful language to demonstrate his feeling. This is evident in "Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse/ The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates" (II I 50-51). This language shows what the effect of the murder will be, including its magnitude. Later in Act one scene 4 where Macbeth is planning the murder and he is keeping his plans secret, the horror can be seen from this quote "Let not light see my black and deep desires" (I iv 51). The word 'black' in this context represents evil and the fact that Macbeth is calling upon evil to become king also shows the magnitude of horror. In addition to this all but two scenes are set in darkness. The imagery of darkness shows us disorder, evil and chaos. The witches appearance, "secret, black, and midnight hags" also indicates their evil nature. The witches' dark meeting place and dark appearance all emphasize their destructive nature. In conclusion, we can see that the magnitude and horror is created when Macbeth murders Duncan in many ways. Rahul Bose ...read more.

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