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Is Lady Macbeth the Driving Force behind the Murder of King Duncan?

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Holly Barnes-Wallis Is Lady Macbeth the Driving Force behind the Murder of King Duncan? 'Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be What thou are promised; yet I do fear thy nature, It is too full o'th'milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way.' Lady Macbeth, Act 1 scene 5 In the first two scenes, it is clear that the plot to murder King Duncan is the main occurrence in Macbeth. It is not fair to say that Lady Macbeth is the only driving force behind this deed, however, her persuasiveness and ruthlessness is one of the main factors. When Lady Macbeth receives the letter from her husband, her ambition is immediately obvious. As soon as she has read it, she wants Macbeth to become king. She is determined that Macbeth must act to become king, and so she thinks of murder straight away. She is determined that the prophecies that she has heard about will come true: "Hail, king that shalt be." This I have thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee. ...read more.


She makes the point that she knew the joy of being a mother, and would have given that up for Macbeth to be king. She uses this imagery as a shock tactic. From this one terrifying admission she shows us that 'th'milk of human kindness' is not in her. Lady Macbeth feels the need to bully and manipulate her husband, as she calls him 'green and pale', a 'coward' and that he resembles the 'poor cat' who wanted the fish but refused to get its paws wet. She taunts his masculinity. Insulting him and his morals eventually gets him to commit the deed; she manages to persuade him. When she is faced with a wavering Macbeth she is full of total confidence of their success. 'We fail?' is one of the most important quotations that shows this, as she is questioning Macbeth's doubts and, more importantly, showing that she has total confidence in him and the plan. She cannot contemplate the fact that they will fail. She is more forceful that any woman should have been at the time Macbeth was written. This could be for two reasons. One is that the evil spirits have taken away her femininity like she asked; the other is that she naturally has more masculine qualities such as bravery, cunning and ambition. ...read more.


But it could be said that the witches knew about the murder of Duncan, and so Lady Macbeth was fated to persuade him to murder him. After Macbeth finds out he is the Thane of Cawdor, another of the witches' predictions, he thinks that becoming King is more of a possibility: Two truths are told As happy prologues to the swelling act Of the imperial theme. and the thought of murder does come into his head: I am the Thane of Cawdor, If good, why do I yield to that suggestion, Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair And make my seated heart knock at my ribs Against the use of nature. Macbeth is shocked and appalled by his thoughts. He also thinks that what will happen cannot be stopped: 'Time and the hour runs thorough the roughest day'. In Act 2 scene 1 in Macbeth's soliloquy he hallucinates and sees a dagger. He takes this as a sign of fate, and so he decides he must kill Duncan. In conclusion, without Macbeth's priorities and ambition, and the witches' influential predictions, the deed may not have been committed. But I think that without Lady Macbeth's persuasion the deed would certainly not have been committed; she is the main driving force behind the murder of King Duncan. ...read more.

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