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

Is Lady Macbeth the driving force behind the murder of Duncan?

Extracts from this document...


Is Lady Macbeth the driving force behind the murder of Duncan? Macbeth is a very complex character and has a number of influences on him in the first part of the play. The most important are the witches, Lady Macbeth, and his own ambition. Whether or not any of these is powerful enough to be called a "driving force" is debatable. The scene where Macbeth meets the witches is one of great significance, as it seems that this is where everything begins. It is interesting that the first words that Macbeth says in this scene echo the witches "So foul and fair a day I have not seen." This gives rise to the suspicion that there is the seed of evil in Macbeth already and it is there before he meets the witches. The witches themselves clearly have more of an effect on Macbeth than on Banquo, he starts when they say that he will be king. This suggests that he was already thinking about the possibility, or had done in the past. The fact that Macbeth learns that he has become the Thane of Cawdor immediately after hearing the prophecy strengthens his feelings on the witches, "Two truths are told as happy prologues to the swelling act" Macbeth is already starting to think of murder now, although the witches made no mention of it. ...read more.


The last two lines are a rhyming couplet, suggesting that this is at least partly a spell, which would again mean that Macbeth has a connection to evil. Lady Macbeth seems to want to bet the driving force behind the murder when she is introduced to the audience. Her speech seems to refute the allegations that Macbeth is too ambitious and straying towards evil, as she says he is too kind. She clarifies that he is ambitious, "but without the illness that should attend it" It appears that she wishes to infect him with this sickness, so that he can do the job. From her point of view at least, he is not capable of this murder on his own. Lady Macbeth then does a spell not unlike Macbeth's, but seemingly more unnatural and evil. She calls on spirits and asks them to take away the part of her that is feminine, so that she can have the cruelty to do what must be done. She too summons darkness to her aid and wishes to hide her actions from Heaven. At this point she seems both more forceful and more evil than Macbeth. When the Macbeths are together, she seems to dominate him and to be much more eager for the murder to be done than he does. ...read more.


After some more persuasion, Macbeth agrees to carry out the Murder. This is the turning point and at first glance, everything in this scene seems to say that Lady Macbeth drove Macbeth into the murder. However, it does appear odd that Macbeth should back down so easily, as he felt so strongly about Duncan's innocence. He may have made up his mind, but subconsciously hoped that Lady Macbeth would persuade him. This does look likely when we see how feeble his resistance was. Although he does seem easily driven, maybe his pride is more important to him that his morals. Lady Macbeth showed that she was braver than him, in their measurement of bravery at least; therefore he had to prove himself her match. It may also be her threat that she did not think his love was worth anything without his courage. In the Murder scene, Macbeth does seem driven and seems to be regretting his choice. Lady Macbeth has trouble holding him together as he appears to be maddened with fear. Many explanations are possible and all seem plausible. What is clear is that Shakespeare's audience would have believed that Lady Macbeth drove Macbeth to the murder, but in modern interpretation things are different and more complex. ...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. How does Macbeth's character develop up to the murder of King Duncan?

    In Act 1, scene 3, we learn more about the evil nature of the witches. The scene brings together the two ideas of the past scenes; The first being the supernatural ideas portrayed in scene one, then the realistic, human ideas in the second scene.

  2. Who was the driving force behind the murdur of duncan?

    This proves resonant with a steady rhythm, it tells of a battle that will come to an end and a victory and a loss will be made. These are used again on separate lines at the end of each sentence to give a poetic rhyme to the speech.

  1. Lady Macbeth is the driving force behind the murder of Duncan!

    She also suggests that she is going to inspire Macbeth to become what he has been promised. Lady Macbeth is dominant, determined and powerful, she plans the details of the murder, she has the future all worked out, she calls upon the witches to possess her and get rid of

  2. Lady Macbeth is the real driving force behind the murder of Duncan." Discuss this ...

    Lady Macbeth can be seen as a strong dominating women, who is violent or she can be seen as someone who is doing the best for her loved one. In her soliloquy she plans to murder Duncan and become the queen, the audience would feel very strongly about this because

  1. 'Lady Macbeth is the real driving force behind the murder of Duncan'. Discuss this ...

    Macbeth also considers the religious consequences, that the killer is damned for eternity, and finally, pity and horror. "And pity, like a naked newborn babe Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin horsed Upon the slightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, That tears shall drown the wind."

  2. "Lady Macbeth is the real driving force behind the murder of Duncan" Discuss this ...

    At first Macbeth and Banquo seem shocked by the witches as they speak in riddles, and talk about Macbeth becoming King and Banquo's descendants becoming Kings. This is shown when Banquo says 'Good sir...do sound so fair?' Towards the end of the scene, where the witches vanish, Macbeth is eager

  1. Discuss the statement "Lady Macbeth is the driving force behind the murder of Duncan".

    After hearing the prophecy that he would become king he suddenly remembered the thoughts he had of killing Duncan and that even though the thoughts may have seemed absurd before, after hearing these predictions, the thought of killing Duncan so he could be king sooner was not so stupid after all and that it might just work.

  2. Is Lady Macbeth the real driving force behind the murder of King Duncan?

    They greeted Banquo with the same respect, once again giving ambiguous predictions. From the oxymorons, Banquo learned he will not be King, but his children will be... "Thou shalt get kings, though tho be none." As Macbeth finally finds the courage to speak, he's intrigued to find out more from the witches.

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