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Macbeth essay on Duncan

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Introduction

Historically Duncan was a weak king. To what extent do you think he is a good king or an ineffective king in Shakespeare's presentation of him in Macbeth? Historically Duncan is a weak king but in Macbeth, Duncan is seen as a popular monarch. In Shakespeare's time the standards of a king were higher than they are now, one of the reasons why this may be is because the commoners and king believed that the king was God's representative on earth, and so the people looked up to the king and expected him to know everything. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Duncan is seen as being a good king but also as an ineffective king. In Macbeth Duncan is seen as a fair king, he promotes justice in his kingdom, he does this by punishing the 'bad' i.e. sentencing the Thane of Cawdor to death because he betrayed Scotland. ...read more.

Middle

The simile makes us think that Duncan is a holy king as Macbeth draws a comparison figuratively between his virtue and angels when Duncan is murdered that the people will cry. Similarly Macbeth's use of hyperbole "Fears will drown the wind" emphasises Duncan's popularity. Also the superlative "most sainted king" makes Duncan seem religious as Macduff is referring to him as a saint, and saints were people who did things for God on earth this quotation ties in with the Divine Right of Kings also religious imagery is again used when Duncan himself employs the noun "sin" referring to himself. He sees himself as wrong as he hasn't praised Macbeth, this emphasises his moral goodness. He is also seen as religious as he is in no way connected with evil as the witches do not mention him at all during the play, they refer to Macbeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Duncan is also seen as gullible as the first Thane of Cawdor deceives him by helping the opposition, then the second Thane of Cawdor (Macbeth) deceives him as well as he killed Duncan. This suggests that he is in error of judgement and blind towards people's true character but then again Duncan has no reason to be suspicious of Macbeth as Macbeth has fought for him and spend his life in service towards the King. Duncan acknowledges the difficulty of telling appearance from reality "There is no art to find the mind's construction in the face." But if Duncan is God's representive on earth he should be better than everyone else to judge people's character. In conclusion I think that Duncan is a good king, as he is just, caring and holy but on the other hand he is weak, nepotistic and possibly gullible. ...read more.

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