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Macbeth - Why does Macbeth kill Duncan when he knows he should not?

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Why does Macbeth kill Duncan when he knows he should not? Macbeth was a controversial play written during the Jacobean period. This play, written by William Shakespeare, involves the act of killing the king, or regicide. Having been set in Jacobean times this play would have invoked much horror and disbelief among audiences as they were intrigued though amazed at the bravery of Shakespeare for including regicide during the reign of the very powerful king, James I. In comparison, people in modern times watching this would not be affected whatsoever because the times have changed and people are no longer as influenced by the monarchy and there are obvious differences in severity - for example: mocking King James I would incur a death penalty, whereas now the Royal family is mocked daily. However, recently the gunpowder plot had been attempted, and at the time, regicide was becoming an ever increasing topic of plays. The tragic play begins by introducing the main character, Macbeth, who throughout the duration of the play gradually becomes more evil and eventually is killed. This makes the play so tragic as brave Macbeth begins the play as a hero, however, he is tragically converted to an evil man, committing many terrible crimes leading to his eventual death! ...read more.


Macbeth knows he should not carry out the murder because Duncan is king! Never the less this would be his chance. However, Lady Macbeth has an opinion in controversy to that of Macbeth's as she now believes he is not man enough to undertake the deed: "Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without The illness attend it." (1.5.16) This demonstrates how Lady Macbeth does not believe Macbeth is capable of murder, as he is not evil enough. She recognizes his ambition, but knows that it will not be enough to murder a king. She would of course have committed the murder herself, however, the appearance of Duncan is similar to that of her father, thus meaning she cannot carry out the terrible murder. Lady Macbeth believes that Macbeth needs to become more evil, however she also knows that at the same time he must maintain his innocent looks - she gives him this advice: "look like th'innocent flower, But be the serpent under't." (1.5.63) This illustrates the advice from Lady Macbeth, in the form of both a metaphor and a simile, as she instructs him to appear innocent as if he would not have committed the murder. However, he should be guilty like an aggressive serpent that kills without thinking. ...read more.


Macbeth's attitude to the murder suddenly changes: "With Tarquin's ravishing steps..."(2.1.55) This expresses how Macbeth's attitude has changed from being somewhat horrified to that of excitement as he compares himself to a Roman prince (Tarquin) who raped Lucrece. Macbeth marches with the ravishing strides that Tarquin himself did, thereby highlighting the grotesque fact that Macbeth has become sexually excited at the thought of murder. At this point in the play, Macbeth is truly evil. All in all, though the witches and Lady Macbeth may have influenced Macbeth himself, at the end of the day it was Macbeth alone who committed treason! However, would Macbeth still have murdered Duncan if the witches had not told him that he would become king? Had Lady Macbeth not been so forceful, would Macbeth actually have murdered Duncan? In the end, Macbeth managed to overcome his conscience. With his conscience being the main factor preventing him from murdering Duncan in the first place, that when he had overcome his conscience it was just a matter of time and ambition. In the end - it was this ambition that made him actually commit regicide - he wanted to be king!!! He was desperate, greedy and selfish and clearly he would have done anything to become king, whether it meant killing Duncan or not. ?? ?? ?? ?? RobWatson GCSE English c/w 1 ...read more.

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