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Who is responsible for the death of King Duncan?

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Who is responsible for the death of King Duncan? In many cases, murders have only one sole guilty party onto whom the responsibility for their crimes must be placed. Quite often, this is bestowed upon the character who administers the fatal blow. However in the case of plays, such as Macbeth written by William Shakespeare, the actions leading up to the death, are often more complex with many characters involved. One character would not have been able to carry out the deed alone, and in many cases even with two. However with all actions combined, murder is committed via a series of smaller acts, therefore sharing the responsibility between the characters according to the significance of their relevant part. In the story of Macbeth, it is clear that there are 5 parties, whose actions led to the death of King Duncan. They are Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, the Three Witches with Duncan's guards also playing a part. Therefore in order to come to a substantiated conclusion as to who is the ultimate guilty party, we must assess to what degree their actions had effect to cause the death of King Duncan. Firstly, though they play only a small part, the responsibility of the guards must be questioned, as it is they who were responsible for the well fare of Duncan on the night which he was murdered. Failing to do their jobs, becoming so drunk they were forced into slumber, Macbeth was able to easily enter the Kings chamber. ...read more.


This shows that he had strong intent and had planned this act. Although Macbeth has realised the extremity of the crime which he would be committing, he still decides to go ahead with the murder. This shown by his knowledge that he will be severely punished in the next life "the deep damnation of his taking off" and also by clearly avoiding the word murder, making use of phrases such as "bloody instructions, th'assassination, blow" and "the deed". In addition to this, he also realise the moral wrongs of his thinking, being Duncan's Kinsman, subject and host, he still commits the evil act nevertheless. His weakness and desire for the crown led him to be persuaded to kill Duncan on the pretence of proving his manhood. This clear self orientation and selfishness and also the fact that Macbeth is the direct beneficiary from Duncan's death suggest that Macbeth may be the guiltiest party. The main action of Macbeth also cannot be disregarded. The fact that it was Macbeth who did brutally, almost insanely stabbed Duncan, several times with two blades (Act.2 scene 2). In our society, as with most countries all over the world, people are made to take responsibility and held accountable for their own actions, no matter how great or small. In courts, magistrates and judges would always sentence the main guilty person more severely than any accomplices. As such the Witches and Lady Macbeth would receive a lighter punishment commensurate with their involvement in this crime. ...read more.


She plays the perfect hostess and plans every detail getting Duncan's guards to become drunk. She also teaches Macbeth how to behave to hide his true emotions and thoughts, planning out both their parts in the murderous plot. "Act like the innocent flower, but be the serpent underneath it". It can be argued that the murder would not have been possible without her careful planning and cunning. In Macbeth's ambitious, and also moral bound state of mind it is very likely that if he had acted on his own to murder Duncan it would have resulted in him getting caught before even getting to close Duncan. In conclusion, although the three witches did initiate the thought, they did not act directly in any threatening way to give them significant responsibility in the murder of Duncan. However, both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth must take equal responsibility for the death of King Duncan. Although Macbeth would not have murdered Duncan without the persuasion of Lady Macbeth, the act of murder is too great to be overlooked. Macbeth did agree to go along with Lady Macbeth's plan, although it required some persuasion. I believe that it is fair to say that it was Lady Macbeths and Macbeths, greed, and desire for the crown that led them to their final act of murder for which they are both responsible. Without either character, the other would have been unable to achieve the task alone, Macbeth needing a boost of his confidence, and Lady Macbeth, Macbeth's strength to carry out the deed. Nadia Dilmahomed 10D English coursework ...read more.

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