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Why did Macbeth kill Duncan?

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Introduction

Dean Roberts 11S Why did Macbeth kill Duncan? In this essay I will explore all the reasons and explanations behind the killing of Duncan by Macbeth. I will explore all the influences upon him that lead to him deciding to kill Duncan; who is his king. I will explore four factors that contribute to the murder of Duncan; these factors are: Macbeth's personal ambitions, the weaknesses of Duncan, the witches and the ever-present influence of Lady Macbeth. This play is based upon the life of a real man, Macbeth. He was born in the year 1005, and was the grandson of King Malcolm II. Later in Macbeth's life he fights a battle and eventually kills a man called Duncan near Elgin. After killing Duncan he then drove his sons out of the country. This relates strongly to the play, where the thoughts of Macbeth are explored more often and the story slightly different. When James I of England became king, a year later Shakespeare produced the play Macbeth. The strategy of producing the play at this time was very successful, as the play was very relevant to the audience, as it was compared to a recent happening; the gunpowder plot in 1606. There are many ideas running through Macbeth's head during the play, and his thoughts are often shown to the audience by the use of Soliloquies (asides). This gives the audience a feel of what is going through Macbeth's mind and how his thoughts change during the play. We know in the play that Macbeth has been a successful soldier and has fought for his country. He is seen as a hero at the start of the play and is admired by everyone. This is what Duncan says about him, 'O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman'. (Act I Scene 2) This is an example of the feeling other characters had towards Macbeth at the start of the play, along with the audience. ...read more.

Middle

(Act I Scene 3) This quote shows an example of Macbeth talking about how he has already thought about becoming king; although he thought it would not come about in such circumstances: killing Duncan. His reaction is as if some one has read his mind. Macbeth is excited by the witches' words, but when he receives news that he is the Thane of Cawdor, he has proof that they know the future and he begins to believe them. Macbeth is effectively a weak person, 'why do I yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair, And make my seated heart knock at my ribs, Against the use of nature?' (Act 1 Scene 3) The witches chose the right time and the right place to approach Macbeth. He is full of glory from the recent battle and fresh from fighting and killing. The witches start controlling the thoughts of Macbeth, as each prediction comes true he becomes more concerned about the prophecies they have put before him. Are the witches turning Macbeth insane? Are they controlling all of his thoughts? In the speech where Macbeth sees an illusion of a dagger, are the witches responsible for that? 'Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle towards my hand? Come, let me clutch thee:' (Act 2 Scene 1) I think that the witches are responsible for the illusion of the dagger. The way they control Macbeth's thoughts through the play is uncanny, and I believe that they are having a very negative effect on Macbeth, making him feel guilty. Maybe the fact that Macbeth knew what was to happen in his life disturbed him. If Macbeth never knew that he was to become king, then maybe none of this would have happened. The witches have complete control over Macbeth, and without saying anything, they convince him to kill Duncan; such is the power they have. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lady Macbeth mainly thinks for Macbeth and tells him what to do and when to do it. They say behind every successful man there is a strong woman; I believe that this couple also follow this rule. In conclusion I feel that all the points I have mentioned have had some affect on why Macbeth kills Duncan in the play. In different ways, each factor almost encourages him to kill Duncan: Duncan's vulnerability to spot traitors around him makes it much easier for Macbeth to get away with the murder. The witches control the thoughts of Macbeth, and as each prediction comes true, the more the witches' predictions are in the mind of Macbeth. He feels that what will be will be, and if he has to kill Duncan to be king then so be it. The presence of Lady Macbeth is also an important factor, and I think the most influential upon Macbeth. I think that she encourages Macbeth so much because she is concerned about her future. If Macbeth kills Duncan then Lady Macbeth will be queen; she will have power, which is what I feel she has wanted during the whole play. She encourages Macbeth so much, she taunts him, and she questions his manhood, all to have power for herself. The whole play is filled with twists and different ideas on why Macbeth kills Duncan, but I feel the following quote sums up the main reason why Macbeth kills him, 'How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn As you have done to this.' (Act I Scene 7) I feel this quote sums up why Macbeth kills Duncan because it shows the methods of persuasion of Lady Macbeth. I think Lady Macbeth is the main reason behind the killing of Duncan, as she taunts him by saying he is not a man if he does not perform the deed. Her methods obviously work on Macbeth as the deed is finally done. ...read more.

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