• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. What influences Macbeth to make the decision to kill Duncan in Act 1?

    Also King James had influenced his subjects and more than ever they will be frightened and intrigued by this performance. This opening will also show the intentions of the witches toward Macbeth and wanting him to slaughter the king. Which bring me to think that all the cursing toward the

  2. Through close analysis of Act 1 Scene 5 and Act 5 Scene 1, examine ...

    A modern audience may not appreciate this, and so may mistakenly think that Lady Macbeth has a completely dark and evil nature. Lady Macbeth asks the spirits to "unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty; make thick my blood."

  1. Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness and finally suicide are richly deserved, discuss

    The role of women was to aid and support their husband, therefore it could be seen that she was doing her duty. She saw her husband's ambition but knows he does not contain the evil to act upon it. Instead of watching her husband's despair she decides to act and help Macbeth.

  2. In this essay I will show you how far Macbeth is driven by his ...

    Act 1 Scene 4, Line 22-23). Later, however, Macbeth starts to see Malcolm as an obstacle standing in his way before the throne. He says, "The Prince of Cumberland is a step on which I must fall down, or else o'erleap, for in my way it lies."

  1. Show How Shakespear Presents Dramatically the Process By Which Macbeth Comes To the Decision ...

    With their prophecies about Macbeth's future, they give a sense of tension as the audience to want see if they are correct. The Witches were a symbol of evil, and Shakespeare uses this fear of the devil to give his plays an additional eerie and haunting effect.

  2. Choose any two of Macbeth’s soliloquies and explore them in detail showing-what they reveal ...

    By the end of the speech I think Macbeth's mind is turned from committing regicide, but I propose that this could be because he is sceptical about how the murder may turn out, as he says, 'Might be the be-all and the end-all-here,' which doesn't prove that he has a

  1. Describe Macbeth’s Character as it appears and changes in act 1 and act 2.

    Most worthy thane, For it is thane" Act 1, Scene 3, Line 104 - 107 Macbeth and Banquo are amazed that what the witches said was true. From then on, Macbeth realises even more, that to forfill what has been said by the witches, he must do the deeds immediately,

  2. To what extent do Superstition and the Supernatural lead to Macbeth’s downfall?

    We are told how much of a brave solider he is and that he deserves the name "Brave Macbeth". We learn how he risks his life on the battlefield and how barbaric he was. We are also told how Macbeth deals with a traitor on the battlefield, and he punishes the traitor in a rather violent way.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work