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To Kill Duncan

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To Kill Duncan This exert from Shakespeare's Macbeth, Act I, scene vii, concentrates on Macbeth's inner conflict. It is a soliloquy where Macbeth tries to rationalize his decisions, deciding if ambition is a worthy motive to commit the horrible act of slaughtering his beloved, kindly king. With a deliberative tone, Shakespeare draws two options for his main protagonist: fall to corruption for personal gain or remain uncrowned with a clean conscience. The first option is one of conniving and murder, killing King Duncan. Many lines describe the King as unsuspecting. He is there in "double trust," and therefore off guard to any possible attack (ln 12). ...read more.


The imagery conjured from the words "vaulting" and "o'erleaps" connotes restlessness. He desires power so much that he cannot be contained in his current position. This presents the powerful, though single-minded, motivation for assassinating King Duncan. Still, Macbeth also presents many legitimate, convincing reasons for allowing the King to live. First, he praises Duncan as a generally good king who definitely does not deserve to die a violent, premature death. He uses the biblical allusion that "his virtues will plead like angels . . . against the deep damnation of his taking-off" (ln 19-20). Angels, symbols of goodness and fair judgment, will be sad if Duncan is killed. ...read more.


of our poison'd chalice to our own lips," so any actions he commits will eventually come back to doom him as he replaces King Duncan, putting himself in the same vulnerable position. The assassination will teach "bloody instructions" that will eventually bring misfortune to Macbeth (ln 9). This possible foreshadowing hints that any destruction from here will no doubt lead to a tragic ending to Macbeth's own life. In conclusion, this passage shows second thoughts from Macbeth, as well as a truly moral conscience. He will be plagued with regret and guilt if he does assassinate the King. He is far too aware of the negative aspects of taking the crown to perpetrate this terrible act without equally heavy repercussions. ...read more.

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