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King Duncan's murder marks the beginning of Macbeth's downfall. Who can be held mostly responsible for this?

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Shakespeare Coursework King Duncan's murder marks the beginning of Macbeth's downfall. Who can be held mostly responsible for this? 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare is a play set in 1040 about a Scottish general named Macbeth. It explores the transformation and effect of his ambition upon his life. Although it is set in 1040, it is written in the 1606 under the reign of James 1st. James' very recent accession to the English throne would have been of great contemporary importance and a play which focuses on Kingship would have roused interest too. The first characters we are introduced to in the opening of the play are the witches. The witches immediately give the sense of a supernatural presence that creates fear and confusion for the audience, who would at that time have believed in witches. The witches use rhyming blank verse: 'When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightening, or in rain?' This rhyming blank verse stands out from the blank verse spoken by the other characters. This line in the play also emphasizes that whenever the witches 'meet' or appear there is always 'thunder', 'lightening' and 'rain,' this links with the stage directions that also change to 'thunder and lightening' whenever the witches appear. This emphasizes that with the chaotic change of weather in the natural world it breeds unnatural beings. The witches speak in rhymed verse combining alliteration and assonance also to emphasize that they are supernatural beings: 'Double double toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble' In addition to the rhyming verse the witches also use language of contradiction, 'fair, is foul and foul is fair,' and 'lesser then Macbeth and greater.' ...read more.


Lady Macbeth's determination to carry out this crime over rules her husband's as she uses words like 'coward,' and 'beast' to criticize, tease and insult him rather than persuasion to get her way. Although the witches are clearly responsible for awakening Macbeth's ambition, Lady Macbeth is responsible for manipulating Macbeth to kill Duncan as she ignores his rational and moral arguments and challenges his manhood. Lady Macbeth firstly taunts Macbeth by comparing his ability to carry out a sexual act with the willingness to carrying out the murder: 'Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour As thou art in desire? This reinforces the idea that Lady Macbeth is clearly much more courageous and ambitious than Macbeth and will therefore do anything to get her own way. Although Macbeth's strong ambitions have awakened, Lady Macbeth seems more solely interested with immediate power which she uses her supposed masculine 'virtues' to achieve. She then shifts to implying he is unmanly: 'They have made themselves, and that their fitness now Does unmake you. The emphasis that the right time and place has presented itself to Macbeth, but yet he is 'like the poor cat' who is too cowardly to wet his paws to get what he wants. Macbeth's objections to and confusion about whether to murder are not strong enough to withstand Lady Macbeth's strong sense of purpose and taunting and he is therefore left weakly asking: 'If we should fail? The use of female characters such as Lady Macbeth and the witches are used in Macbeth by Shakespeare to undermine the idea that: 'Undaunted mettle should compose' ...read more.


Macbeth realizes that everyone is a threat especially his best friend Banquo, whose son is to become king. Macbeth's strong link with the witches as supernatural beings also stresses the appearance of the floating 'dagger' and Banquos ghost at the banquet. This underlines the idea that 'unnatural deeds breed unnatural troubles,' Macbeth's decision to believe the witches and pursue his desire for power using any means possible stresses that he has started a chain of violence that can now not stop unless Macbeth is dead. The appearance of Banquo as a ghost also stresses the guilt felt by Macbeth for killing his best friend. As the play continues and Lady Macbeth's character fades away, Macbeth's character strengthens as he thinks about murdering Macduff: 'I am in blood Stepped in so far, that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o'er.' This underlines Macbeth's feelings that he is so advanced in this murder that it is easier to continue his course of violence then to go back. This also foreshadows that anyone is in danger and Macbeth shall murder again. At this point in the play we realize that no one but Macbeth is responsible for the death of Lady Macduff and her son, it is the point where Macbeth kills only for desire and not political gain. I believe that although Macbeth is clearly influenced by the witches and Lady Macbeth, he still has a freedom of will and the evil is therefore primarily inherent in his character. He therefore makes a decision whether to murder or not. Shrouk El Sayed GCSE English S5R ...read more.

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