Macbeth's Responsibility for the Murder of King Duncan
This essay will discuss the issue of King Duncan's murder in William
Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth'. Macbeth is seen to be the one that is
responsible for Duncan's murder as his hands were the ones that
actually killed King Duncan, however, on closer inspection, there are
other influences in Macbeth's decision. The three main influences to
Macbeth's decision are Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and the Witches.
William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth to compete with the other common
types of entertainment in the early sixteen hundreds, Bear Baiting
being one of the most popular. To attract people from these other
bloodthirsty sports, William Shakespeare had to include lots of gore
and bloodshed in his plays. Macbeth is a prime example of using this
William Shakespeare set Macbeth in Scotland to please King James 1st,
as he was Scottish.
King James 1st claimed to be the descendant of Banquo so Banquo is
shown to be brave and conscientious.
In the play, the idea of nature turning up side down if the King is
murdered comes from the traditional belief that contact with the
monarch will relieve all sicknesses and diseases anyone has that
touches them. This puts the King on the same line as 'God' in the
mortal world as he was said to heel people just by touching them.
King James 1st believed strongly in witchcraft, so to please him,
Shakespeare included many references to the supernatural and strange.
On the one side of the story, Macbeth is shown to be willing and
competent to kill king Duncan.
Macbeth being capable of killing other people is shown at the start of
the play when the wounded captain is talking about Macbeth slicing a
rebel from his belly button to his jaw. This is shown by the quote
"Till he unseamed him from the nave to th' chops, and fixed his head
upon our battlements".
Macbeth shows that he is willing to kill the king because he is
interested in the witches predictions after they tell him that he is
going to become the 'Thane of Cawdor' and then King. This is shown by
the quote 'Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more' (act 1, scene
3, Page 30). Macbeth knows that there is already a 'Thane of Cawdor'
and he obviously knows that there is also a King that are both still
alive and well.
Macbeth believes in the witch's predictions about him becoming Thane
of Cawdor and King, and Banquo fathering a long line of kings because
the messengers have come from King Duncan to congratulate him on
becoming the new Thane of Cawdor. Becoming Thane of Cawdor was one of
the witch's predictions for him and he now believes that the second
part of his predictions will come true. When Macbeth is talking to
Banquo after the witches have disappeared and the messengers have come
to congratulate him, he asks...