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Macbeth: A Reluctant Murderer.

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Introduction

Macbeth: A Reluctant Murderer Macbeth's motive to murder Duncan is to become the King of England. Although he finally does carry out the murder he was not always definite and more than once he had decided that he would not murder but things happened which made the idea of murder return to him. The thought of becoming King first occurs to Macbeth in Act 1:3 when the witches confront him. He is told that he will "be king hereafter". Banquo notices that Macbeth seems afraid of the idea. Maybe this is because he has hidden ambitions, by line 126 Macbeth is already thinking of kingship "the imperial throne" and by line 138 he thinks about murder "...whose murder yet is but fantastical" but he seems afraid again, showing physical symptoms of stress. The first signs of reluctance are shown with "Against the use of nature" and line 143: "if chance will have me king, why chance may crown me/ Without my stir." This shows that he is thinking of murder but he definitely does not want to go ahead with it because he knows it is wrong. He hopes that that events will take their own course and he will be crowned king without any input from him. Banquo notices how Macbeth seems wrapped up in the idea of becoming king and comments "Look how our partner's rapt" The next time the thought of murder returns to plague Macbeth is in Act 1:4. ...read more.

Middle

judgement here" Macbeth realizes that if he goes ahead and murders Duncan he will be judged and there will be terrible consequences to face. Macbeth admits that if he uses violence against Duncan he will only create more violence and that the violence he creates will turn on him and he will have set a bad example to follow "Bloody instructions, which being taught, return to plague th'inventor" Macbeth decides that if you are going to commit a sin it is only right that something bad should happen to the sinner and that they will be punished for the evil they have committed. "This even-handed justice.../To our own lips." Macbeth imagines a "chalice" full of wine but the wine has been poisoned and instead of going to the victim it returns to Macbeth. He realizes that no matter how well he thinks things are going there will be a time when his evil actions will repeat on him. Up to this point in his soliloquy (line 12) Macbeth's reasons against the murder have been philosophical but from here on he moves into more personal reasons for not going ahead with the murder on Duncan. Macbeth tells us that Duncan is here in "double trust" which means that Duncan should be able to trust Macbeth and have faith in him and should have no worries about his safety. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is his one and only reason "only/Vaulting ambition" but crucially even Macbeth admits that this reason is negative and self-defeating "which o'erleaps itself/And fall on th'other" This means, that Macbeth thinks that if he pursues this assassination attempt, it will only get him back to where he started. This is a moral argument, and this is the last argument, which means that the soliloquy ended on a moral scruple, making Macbeth's reason to hesitate a moral cause. Just as Macbeth ends his soliloquy on the words "I have to spur" Lady Macbeth enters ands goes on to persuade him that the murder of Duncan will be a good idea. She is a spur to the action. Macbeth has many reasons not to go ahead with the murder of Duncan but he only has one reason to act and Macbeth even admits that this is not a solid reason to go ahead with the murder. However, Macbeth's ambition is much more deeply set than just the desire to be King. It is the central driving force for almost all of his actions in the play. Throughout his soliloquy Macbeth seems totally reluctant to carry out the murder. All the negative points outweigh the only reason Macbeth has to go ahead with the murder and at this point we think that the murder will not go ahead and Duncan will remain king. But we still wonder if Macbeth's murderous thoughts will return like they have done many times before. ...read more.

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