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Macbeth-King Duncan

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Historically Duncan was a weak King. To what extent do you think he is a good king in Shakespeares' presentation of him in Macbeth? In 1606, celebrated play-write William Shakespeare created a play that many believe to be among his greatest; Macbeth. Throughout the play we see various themes explored, but none more so than that which shows that one mans greed and thirst for supremacy can obstruct his view as to what is morally correct. King Ducan, holder of the thrown, is described as possessing attributes such as: justice, verity, temp'rance, stableness, bounty, perserverance, mercy, lowliness, devotion, patience, courage and fortitude. I seek to explore whether or not Duncan was deserving of these attributes and deduct if in fact they made him an effective king. Our primary encounter with Duncan is in act 1 scene 2 whereby he is heralded by a trumpet call, this creates imagery of an authoritarian and noble manner and automatically generates respect towards him.The trumpets also suggest that he is unique and of great importance and all attention is automatically drawn towards him. He is followed by his two sons, the eldest first, which would suggest that although he has not yet passed down his thrown, Malcolm, the eldest will be the recipient when he does so. ...read more.


His only input is dictating the orders, and perhaps this is what he can be most useful for. As he is quite old, his battle skills may be quite restricted, and we associate age with wisdom so arguably his best place was as tactician. Nevertheless, his decision to remain away from the battlefield must be viewed as a sign of weakness as a king, which ultimately leads to ineffectiveness, as he is expected to lead his country in war with bravery and leadership, not take a back seat. Despite his unwillingness to actively fight in battle, he shows no such reluctance in punishing those individuals who do wrong against him or betray him. This is evident during the execution of the Thane Of Cawdor, after which he rewards Macbeth with the title. This quickly turns around our opinion of Duncan as he is seen to punish those who do wrong and recognise and reward those who do right, adding to his effectiveness as a king. Duncans entrance in scene 4 is accompanied with a flourish of trumpets and he and his sons once more enter in hierarchical order, once more solidifying his authority and highest position. ...read more.


He then praises Macbeth once more, again showing naeivity in his judgement of character, however, as mentioned before, he can be forgiven for this as there is no outstanding evidence that he should not place his trust in Macbeth. In conclusion, I think Duncan possessed many positive attributes which generated a degree of effectiveness as king. He was swift to punish the wrong and commend the valiant. His single mindedness made him very authoritive and would have put fear and hesitation in the mind of anyone plotting to do wrong or plot against him. However, it is clear that his negative characteristics outweighed the positive. He failed to show leadership and bravery in battle, two vital qualities essential for an effective king. He also indicated that he may be guilty of misplacing his trust, a flaw which may prove fatal to a person of his position, for him and the country. However he could perhaps be forgiven due to the fact that he had no reason to not trust Macbeth. However, it is due to this detrimental characteristic that I have concluded that he was ineffective as a king, agreeing with what he was perceived to be historically. ...read more.

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