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In Shakespeare's "Macbeth", which character or characters bear most responsibility for the death of Duncan? Discuss

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Introduction

GCSE Coursework In Shakespeare's "Macbeth", which character or characters bear most responsibility for the death of Duncan? Discuss. Shakespeare's drama "Macbeth" was first performed in 1603 and appears to celebrate the accession to the English throne of King James I, who was believed to be the descendant of one of the plays characters, Banquo. The plot originates from the ancient Scottish story of King Macbeth of Scotland. Macbeth is the Thane of Glamis, and holds the position of general in the king's army. He is tempted with the prospect of becoming king himself by three witches he meets on a heath. This creates an internal moral dilemma which is exacerbated after he writes to his wife, informing her of his experiences. This compels her to exert pressure upon him, and give orders and ultimatums; and so on the surface Macbeth appears to be a victim of external forces. With this in mind I intend to examine these characters in turn to see who bears the greatest blame for the death of King Duncan. This play was intended for King James I's attention. We know this through the use of Scotland, James' homeland, as a backdrop to the story and the characterisation of his ancestor, Banquo. The characters of the three "weird sisters" are intended as a reference to King James' obsession with witches and witchcraft. ...read more.

Middle

so to as better enable herself to conspire to murder. Lady Macbeth is aware that her husband has great affection for her (he calls her "My dearest partner of greatness" and "my dearest love"), and uses this to her own advantage when she persuades Macbeth to follow through with her plan when he has doubts ("We will proceed no further in this business"). She achieves this by calling into question his love for her ("Such I account thy love") and uses this supposed implantation of doubt in his character as a tool by which she can control him. When she uses the word "desire" for his ambition ("As thou art in desire"), she is attacking his masculinity and insinuating that if he does not do this he is not really a man. There are two elements of desire she refers to, the ambition to become king, and also implying sexual desire by which she is challenging his masculinity and provoking a reaction. Macbeth takes the bait ("I dare do all that may become a man"), meaning he is now resolved to proving to her that he is a man. She says she will not consider him a man until he fulfils his promise ("And to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man"). ...read more.

Conclusion

("If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly"). Here he shows he takes no pleasure in his actions and wants them over as soon as possible. The audience understands that this is just a coping mechanism that allows him to carry out these evil deeds; however his ability to remain apathetic and dissociated with his actions does not allow him to escape ultimate responsibility. Shakespeare's attempts at dealing with issues of responsibility and motivation in his characters bring up some initially unexpected conclusions upon penetrating the surface. The most telling of these is perhaps Macbeth himself, whose conflicted aspirations of greatness, greed and apathy in the face of suffering are indicative of the worst of human nature. Another character who demonstrates a number of human qualities is Lady Macbeth, who has often been misrepresented as the figurehead of greed and self-interest in the past. In fact she could possibly be seen as the victim of an indecisive husband who uses her to carry his burdens of self doubt and insecurity. The witches' initial roles as catalysts of events through their indiscriminate torture of Macbeth are in fact, when considered within the context of James I's book "Daemonologie", sent by God as judges to test Macbeth. The underlying message of the play is the uncomfortable responsibility that we must all take responsibility for our own actions, and that however much we'd like to be able to pass blame, we can't. ...read more.

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