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To what extent is Macbeth responsible for King Duncan's death?

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To what extent is Macbeth responsible for King Duncan's death? In the tragedy of Macbeth there seems to be only one real threat to the King - Macbeth himself. Though as you will eventually come to realize, Macbeth is the least of Duncan's worries... The Witches The fact that we are introduced to the witches in the very first scene must have significance, as I have noticed from other Shakespeare plays, such as a Midsummer Night's Dream, that Shakespeare often inserts characters at strategic moments for a very good reason. The witches are also the main catalyst for Macbeth's actions towards the King, as they are the people who first gave Macbeth ideas of grandeur; "All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!" "All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!" "All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter." (Act one Scene three) I get the impression that the witches are almost against the King and therefore against the natural order of events. This is important in answering the question 'To what extent is Macbeth responsible...' ...read more.


(Act one Scene five) Lady Macbeth is now super-charged with evil and she releases this on the next person she meets, who, unfortunately, is Macbeth. She manages to unleash so much murderous potential that Macbeth is bullied into false agreement, while he is attempting to gather his thoughts. Another point at which Lady Macbeth is forced to use her powers of persuasion is in Act one Scene seven. Macbeth starts the scene with a lengthy soliloquy of his own. He lists all the points why he couldn't kill the king, they are; 1. The consequences of murder, especially of high treason. 2. Macbeth is Duncan's host and his loyal subject. 3. The King is much loved by his Kingdom. 4. To kill the King would be going against the natural order. 5. Macbeth claims to have no 'spur' for the murder. We already know that Lady Macbeth is the main 'spur' for Duncan's murder, but Macbeth is a little slow on the up-take. This forces Lady Macbeth to break cover and tell Macbeth directly that the murder is a good thing. ...read more.


The nature of a tragedy The nature of a tragedy is important in discovering how responsible Macbeth is for Duncan's murder. In Macbeth the tragedy is of how Macbeth himself could have been a force for good, and become the King's 'right-hand man'. All was well at the start and was set to continue, until the three witches appeared and upset the natural order of events. This intern set off a chain reaction resulting in the destruction of Macbeth. It started with Macbeth's ambition, then Lady Macbeth's ambition. It rapidly turned into desire and there would be no turning back. After the murder, Lady Macbeth's feelings turned towards guilt, which caused her to commit suicide. Around the same time Macbeth experienced three apparitions which made him stronger until Macduff uttered these words; "Despair thy charm, And let the angel whom thou still hast served Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb Untimely ripped." (Act five Scene seven) To conclude, Macbeth was indeed responsible for the physical murder of Duncan, and there is no disputing that. However, the lead up to Duncan's murder was fraught with indecision on Macbeth's part, and it could be any or all of the points discussed above which caused Macbeth to finally commit the murder. 2 ...read more.

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