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Is Macbeth wholly responsible for the murder of King Duncan?

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Introduction

Is Macbeth wholly responsible for the murder of King Duncan? This essay will discuss the issue of King Duncan's murder in William Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth'. Macbeth is seen to be the one that is responsible for Duncan's murder as his hands were the ones that actually killed King Duncan, however, on closer inspection, there are other influences in Macbeth's decision. The three main influences to Macbeth's decision are Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and the Witches. William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth to compete with the other common types of entertainment in the early sixteen hundreds, Bear Baiting being one of the most popular. To attract people from these other bloodthirsty sports, William Shakespeare had to include lots of gore and bloodshed in his plays. Macbeth is a prime example of using this strategy. William Shakespeare set Macbeth in Scotland to please King James 1st, as he was Scottish. King James 1st claimed to be the descendant of Banquo so Banquo is shown to be brave and conscientious. In the play, the idea of nature turning up side down if the King is murdered comes from the traditional belief that contact with the monarch will relieve all sicknesses and diseases anyone has that touches them. ...read more.

Middle

With Malcolm the heir to the throne, Macbeth will have to kill not only King Duncan but also Malcolm as well. His fury is shown by the quote 'The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o'er-leap, for in my way it lies.' (act 1, scene 3, page 34). Macbeth makes up his mind to kill Duncan. The quote 'I am settled' (act 1, scene 3, page 40) shows that his mind is straight and fixed on the thought of murdering the king. He then quotes 'False face must hide what the false heart doth know.' (act 1, scene 7, page 41) and Lady Macbeth says 'look like th'innocent flower, but be the serpent under't.' (act 1, scene 5, page 37). This means that he will be secretive and not show any emotion in his face or body language while the king is staying at his castle. On the other side of the story, Macbeth is shown to be scared of carrying out the murder. Macbeth wishes that the king would just die without him doing anything to assist it. ...read more.

Conclusion

'This night's great business into my dispatch... Leave the rest to me'. (act 1, scene 5, page 37). Lady Macbeth calls Macbeth a coward to make him change his mind and encourage him to carry out the murder. 'And live a coward' (act 1, scene 7, page 40). Lady Macbeth uses persuasive techniques to make Macbeth change his mend like she would rather kill her own baby than break her word to Macbeth. 'I have given suck, and know how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me - I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I sworn as you have done to this.' (act 1, scene 7, page 41). The witches are another influence in the story that could change Macbeth's mind on whether to kill king Duncan. At the start of the play, the three witches are together chanting a spell on Macbeth. This shows that Macbeth would not have the power to override the spell and would succumb to their spell. After examining the evidence, I have concluded that Macbeth was not wholly responsible for the murder of king Duncan because there were other influences that he could not prevent. Piers Parfitt 10AB ...read more.

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