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How far do the Witches and Lady Macbeth Influence Macbeth’s Decision to Kill Duncan?

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Introduction

How far do the Witches and Lady Macbeth Influence Macbeth's Decision to Kill Duncan? In this essay I am going to discuss the possible influences that encouraged Macbeth to kill Duncan. After I've done this I will be able to decide which is the biggest influence. It is also important to bear in mind that not only the witches and Lady Macbeth, but also his own ambition has an influence on him. We are able to see how Macbeth's thoughts and actions develop as the play progresses, due to the effects of the three main influences: - the witches, his wife, and himself. In Shakespeare's play "Macbeth", there are particular scenes that demonstrate the influences on Macbeth's decision to kill Duncan. I will look at the five most important scenes in order to reach a conclusion. These are the scenes in which Macbeth first meets the witches and they predict that Macbeth will become king. This then leads on to Lady Macbeth discovering her husband's plans and says that she will persuade Macbeth to become king "I may pour my spirits in thine ear". We can see Macbeth's nerves when he's about to kill his king, because he imagines a nightmarish dagger, and this shows his stress. Duncan is however, not the only person Macbeth is willing to kill so that he can reach his goal. ...read more.

Middle

Let not light see my black and deep desires" (line 51). He has discovered that he does want to become king, and is even contemplating murder, but I do not think that without the encouragement of his wife in the next scene, he would actually have done it. In Act 1 Scene 5, Lady Macbeth receives a letter from her husband informing her of the witches prophecies. Lady Macbeth wishes her husband to become king, but has doubts about his character. She thinks, "It is too full of the milk of human kindness" (line 16). This means that she thinks that he is too attached to other people to get what he really wants i.e. the crown. He is not ruthless or self-centred enough to do it. She also recognises that he has the ambition needed, but is not evil enough. The phrase she uses to describe this is: "Thou... art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it" (lines 17-19) He wants to achieve the highest prize, but he is only willing to do it purely and honestly. Lady Macbeth also has to prepare herself mentally to help her husband. She would naturally have fears about murdering someone, so she has to combat these fears. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the end of Act 2 Scene 1 he commits the murder, although he does have doubts beforehand. We see that he has doubts because he creates a dagger in his imagination. He cannot make the distinction between reality and illusion, "Is this a dagger which I see before me...?" (line 33). Although he does initially fear his imagination he then appears to enjoy the vision. He seems to even think that it is calling him to murder Duncan, "I go, and it is done; the bell invites me" suggests that he feels compelled to commit the crime. Then he murders the king. I think that Lady Macbeth is the biggest external influence, more so than the witches. But I do believe that without his own ambition, he would have gotten nowhere. Lady Macbeth is more influential because she is much closer to Macbeth. In Act 1 Scene 7, he had resolved that he was not going to murder Duncan, but his wife is soon able to convince him to. The witches do place the initial idea into his head, but Lady Macbeth is the one who develops the idea. She is able to get under his skin due to their intimacy, and manipulate him for her own personal gain. Although I think that she is the biggest influence, the final choice was up to Macbeth himself. He killed Duncan of his own free will, so nobody can be blamed; he just gave-in to the pressure. ...read more.

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