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The Unnatural Act Of King Duncan’s Murder

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Published: Fri, 12 May 2017

After the murder, Ross and an Old Man comment on the strangeness of the fact that from the time it’s day yet, on the other hand, by the appearance of the world its night, this is because, as the Elizabethans believed, what happens in the world of man also happens in the natural world, hence the impact of this terrible act. In Shakespeare’s day it was generally believed that events in the greater world of nature reflected, or were affected by, events in the little world of man.

One of the main controversies of nature for the reader is that in spite

of Macbeth’s evil deeds, which the witches are involved. “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes so my single state of man that function is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is, but what is not.” (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 139-41) Macbeth has doubts about the predictions of the witches. He knows that it could be a trick and his misgivings make him seem to be a better person. “Why do you dress me in borrowed robes” (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 8-9)? He wants the position, but is afraid that he did not come by it naturally since it was predicted by the witches. King Duncan awards Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor for his courageousness in battle. Macbeth doesn’t seem to be one overwhelmed by his ambition but when met by the witches takes their ramblings to heart. ‘Hail Thane of Glamis and of Cawdor and shalt be King hereafter’. These prophecies from three strangers are taken without question and probably without good judgement. Just the thought that he may be King clouds his thoughts and ambition to take over.

In Act 2 Scene 4, Ross converses with an Old Man who shares some news with him. Ross notes that, even though day should have arrived ” By the’clock ’tis day and yet dark night stangles the travelling lamp” (Act 2, Scene 4, Lines 6-7) the hour has arrived which should bring broad daylight, but it is still pitch dark outside.The Old Man notes that “A falcon, tow’ ring in her pride of place was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and killed” (Act 2.Scene 4.Lines 13-14). This event symbolizes that an owl kills the more majestic falcon (Duncan).Ross also notes that Duncan’s beautiful and swift horses “turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out, / Contending ‘gainst obedienace, as they would/ Make war with mankind) (Act 2.Scene 4.Lines 15-17). Nature rebels against the unnaturalness of regicide.The Old Man replies that they “eat each other” (Act 2.Scene 4.Line 18); these noble steeds (representing the nobility of Scotland) become cannibals just as the nobility of Scotland will begin to turn against and kill one another.These strange events represent the unnatural murder of a king who treated his murderers like his own children, but it also represents the unnatural suspicion which falls on Duncan’s beloved and faithful sons.

On a heath in Scotland, three witches, the Weird Sisters, wait to meet Macbeth in thunder and lightning. Their conversation is filled with paradoxes; they say that they will meet Macbeth “when the battles lost and won,” when “fair is foul and foul is fair.”, foul and fair To the weird sisters what is ugly is beautiful, and what is beautiful is ugly, “fair is foul and foul is fair” throughout the play, fair is appearance hide foul realties. Thunder and lightning crash above a Scottish grassland. Three hag old women, the witches, appear out of the storm. In creepy, sing tones, they make plans to meet again upon the heath, after the battle, to confront Macbeth. As quickly as they arrive, they disappear, “Thunder and lightning.” This is the description of the scene before Act I, Scene I, and line 1. The thunder and lightning represent disturbances in nature. Most people do not think of a great day being filled with thunder and lightning. So the witches are surrounded by thunder and lightning. Also, the first witch asks in line 2 about the meeting with Macbeth, “In thunder, lightning, or in rain?” The meeting will also be filled with these disturbances. The witches are also surrounded by more undesired parts of weather: “Hover through the fog and filthy air” (line 11). The weather might personify the witches, meaning that the witches themselves are disturbances, though not limited to nature. The bad weather also might mean that the witches are bad or foul (“filthy air”) creatures.

To most people the witches are the primary suspects for forcing Macbeth into killing king Duncan, this is because it is thought that the witches first put the idea of killing Duncan into Macbeth’s head although this is not the case in my view. Before the battle the witches plan to meet Macbeth and they do not talk of Macbeth and the king a lot. When Macbeth arrives he and Banquo question each other on the witches appearance and it is evident that Banquo suggests the witches are able to understand what he was saying when he suggests,” You seem to understand me.” This first puts the idea into Macbeth’s mind that the witches can speak, he then says,” Speak if you can: what are you.” Here, Macbeth is anxious to see what the witches are going to say because the witches were hesitant to say anything to Macbeth and Banquo before. I believe that the witches weren’t going to say anything about Macbeth and power until Macbeth persuaded them, so basically it was Macbeth’s own fault for making the witches say what they said. Although other arguments could be that the witches knew that Macbeth was going to ask of their speech because they could predict the future, but Shakespeare made no reference to the witches predicting that Macbeth would ask for them to speak. Then they speak in act 2, scene 3, lines 46-48, “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor All hail Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter” Banquo and Macbeth are startled by these predictions but Banquo is less convinced than Macbeth is. He questions Macbeth on if the witches’ predictions will come true and he is quite weary on what the future holds, he show his weariness when he says,” If you can look into the seeds of time.” This implies that Banquo is trying to doubt the witches and not trying to make Macbeth carry out what the witches had said, so Banquo cannot be responsible. Also when the witches say,” All hail Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter,” it doesn’t suggest in any way that Macbeth should murder king Duncan nor Malcolm to become king they only say that he will become king. Duncan could die of natural cause or any other way but murder, so the witches didn’t say that he had to kill him.

Macbeth can also be accountable for his evil deeds for killing the King. Macbeth’s evil is a dynamic character trait. He begins the play as a celebrated hero and courageous soldier, loyal to his friends and dedicated to his king, but is corrupted from the witches’ prophecies. The veiled intimation of power given by the three witches ignites a secret ambition within Macbeth. Evil dawns within him, but at this early stage of his transformation Macbeth is ashamed of his evil urges. He says, “Stars, hide your fires; / Let not light see my black and deep desires; / The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be, / Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.” (Act 1, Scene 4, Line 50) Soon, however, Macbeth is overcome by his ambition and his fall begins. He says, “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself/ and falls on the other.” (Act 1, Scene 5, Line 25) As soon as the decision to murder Duncan is made, and until his death, Macbeth is a vessel relentlessly filling with evil. Lady Macbeth stokes the fire, but the blame for Duncan’s murder rests partially on the shoulders of Macbeth. Macbeth may not have held the knives that killed Banquo or Macduff’s family, but the aggression is his. This is because of the weakness of Macbeth’s character and the strong power of Lady Macbeth and how she is easily able to influence him. Her strength motivates him at the start but after he realises what he has done it is himself that continues in his murderous, bloody path. “[Aside] Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor: the greatest is behind.” (Line 116, Act one, Scene 3, page 8.) This speech shows that Macbeth believes in the Witches’ prophecies and that “the great” of all them (that he will become the King) will come true, this shows that Macbeth is influenced by the Witches and his evil deeds lead him to kill the King.

Lady Macbeth can also be responsible for persuading Macbeth to kill Duncan, she first appears reading the letter that she received from Macbeth, the letter informs her on the witches’ predictions and Scotland winning the battle over the Norwegians. Then she reveals her thoughts to the audience in a soliloquy. She says that she would be very glad to be queen and she is fairly ambitious. The attendant then arrives and announces that king Duncan will be staying at the castle that night and that Macbeth is coming with them. When the attendant leaves she reveals her extremely evil intentions on her being queen in her small soliloquy. In act 1, scene5, she says,” That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan”. This infers that Duncan shall arrive that night and something fatal will happen to him. Lady Macbeth has already planned what will happen to Duncan and she is full with evil ambitions for Duncan. In the same scene she says,” That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here.” This implies that she wants rid of her feminine gentle feelings and those to be replaced with evil intentions. So basically in the small soliloquy she reveals that she has ambitions of killing king Duncan and it is all down to Macbeth to hopefully kill him. After her soliloquy Macbeth arrives and she asks the time when Duncan will leave and Macbeth replies that he will leave the following day. Then Lady Macbeth says,” O never shall sun that morrow see,” this implies that Duncan will not be alive the following morning. After that she commands him to put on a welcoming expression and to think of Duncan being bad when Duncan arrives. In act 1, scene 7, lines 58-59 Lady Macbeth uses emotional blackmail to convince Macbeth to kill king Duncan when she says, ” And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn As you have done to this.” This means that’s if she had promised to do something for Macbeth like to dash the brains of a baby out she would and Macbeth has promised to do something just as hard for her and he has refused to do it. Macbeth feels terrible now because he has not carried out his promise to Lady Macbeth. Her speech would make him go back to his promise and carry it out because he would of felt extremely guilty. In the same scene Macbeth says: “If we should fail?” Lady Macbeth then replies,” We fail?” this suggests that there is no question to the killing of Duncan, Macbeth just has to kill him and failing is not an option. Macbeth has his mind set on killing Duncan because his deer Lady Macbeth will be absolutely furious if he doesn’t do it and if he doesn’t kill him he has lost everything. Lady Macbeth starts telling Macbeth on how they will kill Duncan, and Macbeth is that brainwashed by Lady Macbeth he helps her on the plan of killing king Duncan.

Macbeth says:”If we should fail?” Lady Macbeth then replies,” We fail?” this suggests that there is no question to the killing of Duncan, Macbeth just has to kill him and failing is not an option (Act 1, Scene 7).

“Glamis though art, and Cawdor; and shalt be

What thou art promis’d. Yet I do dear thy nature;

It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness

To catch the nearest way.”

Lady Macbeth makes it obvious that she is determined that Macbeth will become King (“What thou art promis’d”).

Many people think that other characters in the play forced Macbeth in to murdering king Duncan; I do not think this is true because, although other characters motivated him, I also think that Macbeth shows mental weaknesses within the play which lead to him thinking wrongly and allowing others to motivate him.

In act 1, scene 3, Macbeth is confronted by 3 witches and he is very curious to see what they have to say for themselves, they haven’t said anything before so Macbeth ponders them and asks,” Speak if you can; what are you?” Then the witches reply, telling him that he will be king. So Macbeth made the witches put the idea of kingship into his head, the witches didn’t tell him, it was his own fault for motivating his mind on kingship. An example of mental weakness would be in act1, scene 6, line 68 when Macbeth has just received a briefing on what he must do to kill Duncan by Lady Macbeth, he says,” We will speak further-.” Lady Macbeth then stops him abruptly, he was able to dominate Lady Macbeth there but he was too cowardly to do so. He should of stopped Lady Macbeth but it is his own fault for allowing Lady Macbeth to command him what to do. Macbeth reveals his thoughts on why he should not kill king Duncan in a soliloquy at the start of act 1, scene 7. He comes up with all sorts of reasons why he shouldn’t kill Duncan but he is too cowardly to admit that he shouldn’t kill king Duncan to Lady Macbeth. Later on in that scene Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are conversing over the murder, Macbeth tries to break his promise and not kill the king but Lady Macbeth uses emotional blackmail (as mention previously) to get at his feelings. He should have been more of a man to Lady Macbeth and not be so soft.

So, in my opinion it is a combination of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and the Witches. It is mainly Lady Macbeth who is the driving force to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth is primary to blame for the murder of the king. For example, Lady Macbeth is responsible because she is manipulative. She manipulates Macbeth by telling him he is a coward, and questioning his love for her. In addition, another reason why Lady Macbeth is to blame for the King’s murder is that she has her own set of ambitions. Lady Macbeth wants to be queen, wants to be more powerful, and will do anything to get what she wants. She believes Macbeth has been the most loyal to King Duncan and that he should become King. Finally, the last reason Lady Macbeth is to blame is to blame for King Duncan’s murder is because she thought of the whole murder plot. She wants the King dead and she can’t kill him because he looks like her father, so she gets Macbeth to kill him instead, and convinces him that it is a good idea. She makes the king feel safe and treats him really good. Therefore, as one can see Lady Macbeth is to blame for the King’s death. In conclusion, Lady Macbeth is liable for the killing of King Duncan. Lady Macbeth’s ambition makes her not to give up. She knows what to do to her husband so he will do what he wants. She doesn’t give her husband time to think about the murder plot. Therefore, Lady Macbeth is an influencer towards her husband Macbeth.


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