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Who is the Most Responsible for the Death of Duncan, the witches, Lady Macbeth or Macbeth?

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Introduction

15.1.09 Who is the Most Responsible for the Death of Duncan, the witches, Lady Macbeth or Macbeth? It is evident that in the eponymous play, Macbeth does physically undertake the act of killing King Duncan but, nonetheless, we must consider the roles played in his murder by the other major characters in the play. The play was written at the time when Elizabeth had died and the Scottish King, as James VI, became James I of England and Ireland. As James was so interested in Shakespeare's 'Chamberlain's Men' and drama he made them change their name to the 'King's Men'. James was also interested in 'Kingship' and what made a good or tyrannical king. Scottish politics were well known for treason, generally in Scotland, monarchs were murdered to change things. James' father was murdered in such a way, many plots-such as the Guy Fawkes plot-were also made against James. The witches are significant characters as at the time James I was very interested in witchcraft and made many writings against them. The witches are thought to be very responsible for the death of King Duncan, because it is said that they were the first to bring up and put the idea into Macbeth's head of killing Duncan. In my view that is not the case. Going back to the play you see that the witches mention Macbeth even though he hasn't been introduced by Shakespeare as they quote "There to meet with Macbeth". ...read more.

Middle

As she is quite strong-willed and ambitious, she immediately has thoughts about it and reveals them in her soliloquy. She is then told by her messenger that Duncan will be staying at the castle that night, which is when she then shows her evil intentions in another soliloquy just before Macbeth arrives. She says, "...that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements" and "O never shall sun that morrow see!" Both of these quotes show that she is very keen to murder Duncan and to become king, and that she is already taking control. In between the above quotes she says "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty." This implies that she wants her female feelings to be replaced with her evil intentions. But as she said that she would kill Duncan if he did not resemble her father, it shows that she still has a little compassion, "...I laid their daggers ready; he could not miss 'em. Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done't." After Lady Macbeth had started to effectively take over, Macbeth could have stopped her from putting her own evil intentions into his head, but he was too overpowered by his wife to do so. Every time Macbeth tried to confer with his wife she would cut him off and continue to persuade him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lady Macbeth controls him into killing Duncan, by preying on his fear of being seen to be a coward, and Macbeth, foolishly, accepts her argument, rather than standing up for what his conscience tells him is the honourable thing to do. In the play there are a lot of soliloquies, these are mostly used by Macbeth. A soliloquy gives us an insight on the psychology of a character and it makes us conscious of determination and development of the characters thought. So, in my opinion it is mainly Lady Macbeth who is the driving force to kill Duncan. Macbeth and the witches were also responsible, but in my opinion they played a smaller role in Duncan's murder. Lady Macbeth forces Macbeth to do the deed using various methods. Macbeth is too soft against Lady Macbeth and should have stood up for himself a lot more in the play. Also the whole idea of becoming king is formed by Macbeth but the whole idea of murder is formed by the wicked mind of Lady Macbeth. In conclusion, I think Macbeth's ambition is natural. The witches are a source of his evil. They target him from the beginning of the play, although he can ignore them and their prophecies. Nevertheless he wouldn't have carried out the murder if he wasn't pushed and persuaded by Lady Macbeth. He trusts and relies on her. Macbeth has a choice of repelling her, but he is too weak. It is evident therefore, that whilst Macbeth acted out the murder physically, the influence of Lady Macbeth has a major part to play for the murder of King Duncan. ...read more.

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