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Relative Influences On Macbeth To Kill His King In Shakespeare's Macbeth

2161 words - 9 pages

Relative Influences on Macbeth to Kill his King in Shakespeare's Macbeth

There were a number of factors that influenced Macbeth's decision whether to assassinate King Duncan or not. Each of these arguments worked for or against Macbeth's better judgement of the situation. Eventually, a combination of all these factors broke down his conscience through his mental weakness; this led to an unwise decision to kill the King. The consequences of this were fairly disastrous because Macbeth began to regret his actions just moments after the deed was done.

The whole concept of Macbeth's desire to become King of Scotland began when he and Banquo first met the three witches on the moorland. The witches greeted Macbeth each with a prophecy of his future titles:
'All hail to thee, Thane of Glamis
All hail to thee Thane of Cawdor
All hail to thee Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter'
Macbeth seemed to be somewhat stunned by the witches prophecies, whereas Banquo continued to question the three witches in a calm and humorous manner. He noticed Macbeth's troubled facial expression and said:
'Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?'
This was the point where Macbeth started to seriously think about the witches' predictions, the possibilities of becoming King, and how he was going to become King. Although he appears to be head-strong in the opening scenes, the witches' predictions frighten him because he knows he wants to become King, but he realises that he has to take action to progress any further.


One of Macbeth's first soliloquies shows us that he has frightening thoughts, as the idea of murder has slipped into his mind. Although the witches did not suggest murder, Macbeth starts to think solemnly about killing King Duncan. Near the beginning of his first soliloquy, he says:
'If good, 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?'
Macbeth is showing here that deep inside him, there are forces that want him to take action to become King, even if this action is murder. In a way, this scares him, as it would you or me if in his position. It is already starting to show that he is brave in battle, but fragile in mind.

Macbeth's conscience works well for him at first by helping him reject the idea of murder, as Macbeth tells himself:
'If I chance will have me King, why, chance
may crown me,
Without my stir.'
This means that if the witches' prophecies are true, then he will become King whatever the circumstances, so he wouldn't need to commit any crimes, for example murder.

By the end of scene four, Macbeth realises that he may have to take some action to become King, whether it be murder or not. His soliloquy indicates that he wants no one to see what he feels, and what he wants to do. He admits to himself that he has black and deep desires locked up inside him,...

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