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"What influences persuade Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to murder?"

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Introduction

GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE - MACBETH Nishal Palawan 11D "What influences persuade Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to murder?" Historians believe that 'Macbeth' was written in 1606 and performed at Hampton Court for 'King James I.' It is also known that the king (as most of the residents in the period) held firm assumptions in the art of witchcraft. Evidence that confirms this point is the fact that King James wrote a book on the subject 'Demonology.' No doubt Shakespeare knew that King James would be viewing the premiere of the play, so it would have been in his interest to include elements in the plot that would captivate the minds of the potential audience (the notion of a witches curse). The overall theme of witchcraft weaved into the play will act as a factor in persuading Macbeth to murder King Duncan, as Shakespeare would want his main character (a fictional King) to hold the same views as the real king watching from the rafters. The above also ties in with the drama surrounding the 'gunpowder plot' of 1605, where 'Guy Fawkes' conspired to blow up parliament. King James dictated this parliament. These two pieces of information now throw light on why the three witches open the play. As they are the first people that the audience would have seen, whatever they say will remain in their minds. In this case they say "All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!" ...read more.

Middle

The decision of the king angers Macbeth, as in his own eyes Malcolm hasn't displayed any courage so he asks himself the question "Why should he be king and not me?" Duncan also states "Not unaccompanied invest him only," which means that it is not only Malcolm that will receive reward for his service! This just fuel's Macbeth's original thought - that achieving his objective is not far away. This is the stage that the doubts portrayed in the soliloquies are displaced, and Macbeth faces up to his evil thoughts as something that needs to be done. In scene five, Lady Macbeth is introduced into the equation. She reads out a letter sent to her by Macbeth. I believe that by reading it, Lady Macbeth is excited by all the benefits to be reaped from being the wife of a king, but is disappointed that the "man" she married fails to show the courage needed to fulfil her desires. The letter is a summary of the witches speech. Macbeth says "I have learnt by the perfect'st report, they have more in them than mortal knowledge." This means that he has carried out research into the validity of the witches predictions and the findings would suggest that the witches were telling the truth. This has confirmed for him his initial thoughts of his future role in the country - acting as more fuel for the already blazing fire. This is why there is no doubt in both their minds that the witches may have been lying, and that it is essential for their own well being to kill Duncan. ...read more.

Conclusion

She then goes on to emotionally disturb Macbeth, by saying "Such I account thy love?" This means that if Macbeth doesn't murder Duncan, she will assume that he married her out of a drunken act. The final blow is delivered when she says "...to look so green and pale, at what did it so freely?" Again, she questions Macbeth's manhood, saying that he felt very grand at making these plans, but when ordered to execute the plans he shrivels away in fright. As we know, Macbeth takes on pride on what he does on the battlefield - it enhances his reputation of being the leader. So when his own wife questions what Macbeth his mostly proud of, then he is sure to feel that murder is the only option. It is interesting to notice that lady Macbeth has the wit to turn around Macbeth's metaphors, but has not the common sense to see the consequences of murdering the king. Macbeth's final soliloquy before the murder spurs him to go and stab Duncan several times in the chest. He sees a hallucination of a dagger in front of him. It is as if the handle is slowly approaching the clasp of his hand. Blood drops appear on the blade - in Macbeth's eyes the blood of Duncan. A bell rings. It is the signal for him to come out of his hypnotic trance and murder king Duncan. Not only will it hold the key to the throne, but will also unlock his pride, his wife and his manhood. ...read more.

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