The title in this essay is a very straightforward question. This however does not make it an easy one. There are many factors that contribute to Macbeth’s final decision to kill Duncan. I have narrowed it down to four overriding factors, Macbeth’s desire to rule Scotland, Duncan’s vulnerability, Lady Macbeth, and The Witches. All of these factors that I will mention in this essay build up. They make the possibility of the crown irresistible to Macbeth.
The first point that I mentioned was Macbeth’s desire to own the crown.
It was a well-known fact that he was a great warrior on the battlefield. The first act includes a conversation between the captain and Duncan. The Captain refers to Macbeth in this quote:
‘Cannons over-charged with double cracks;
So they doubly redoubled stokes upon the foe.’
This suggests that Macbeth and his friend Banquo fought bravely. He goes on further to explain how much he respected the two warriors, we get an impression of just how much Duncan and the captain admire their ability.
This bravery has obviously lead him into Duncan’s ‘Good-Books.’ Because a set succession was not decided, the closest warrior to the king could have inherited the crown. In this case Macbeth had obviously considered the opportunity prior to his meeting with the witches.
Glamis, and Thane of Cawder:
The greatest is behind. – Thanks for your pains. –
In contrast to his ambition we have to discuss the side of Macbeth that doesn’t want to kill Macbeth. He was a very religious man and the bible states ‘Thou shalt not kill’ Macbeth must have had this in his mind when the murder thoughts arose. Not only that, but Duncan was a relative of his, Lady Macbeth was the niece of Duncan. I feel that Macbeth’s original ambition is just a small factor towards the eventual murder. There were too many counteracting ideas and beliefs such as his religion that would have prevented this murder. I also detect that he is a decent man that served his country valiantly and patriotically. The factors following the primary events contribute a greater deal towards Macbeth’s mind state.
Macbeth realises that Duncan has a weakness. Duncan obviously places trust in his colleagues very easily, as is proved by the previous Thanes betrayal. We learn this news as Shakespeare reveals that he was leaking information to the enemy Norwegians. He also reveals that this could have been prevented if the king had watched him closer.
Looking in hindsight we can also report on how the king misreads the character of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. He naively spends the night in their castle, totally unaware of any plotting that may be taking place. This also suggests a weakness in Duncan’s character. King Duncan is in a weak position because of the system that was in place in that time. There was no particular order in which the succession followed. A murder of royalty was also a regular occurrence, it happened when the people of Scotland almost expected a new name to the throne. In short Duncan was a vulnerable man. He became even weaker when he announced the new king. This built up a suspicion in Macbeth’s mind as to whether the witch’s predictions were correct. This is when Macbeth knew that he would kill Duncan. We hear Macbeth’s first signs of evil.
‘For in my way in lies. Stars hide my fears’
The next point I am going to make is the main focus of the book. At the time the book was written and set in, witches had a prevalent stand in society. Shakespeare obviously uses this idea to scare the audience. In this age witches are recognised as make-believe and they do not have the same effect on the audience. As soon as the witches are introduced to Macbeth we realise that they are going to give the gist of Macbeth’s future. It was in the witches ‘nature’ to predict the future, and Shakespeare uses them as a tool to grip the audience throughout the play. Macbeth is immediately intrigued by the witched predictions and says this:
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs
Against the use of nature? Present fears.
Here Macbeth is accepting the fact that he is going to kill Duncan. He mentions going against nature and this means that the witch’s predictions have taken their toll upon him. Shakespeare employs a very complicated irony in the play. If Macbeth had not have met the witches, then would Macbeth have committed the horrible act. Did they predict the future, or did they make it? Whichever it was, Macbeth was affected by the prophases.
Shakespeare includes an act that involved a dagger been seen in front of Macbeth’s eyes. We need to explore the fact that the witches created this image. This almost drove Macbeth insane and was a turning point of the play.
Is this a dagger which I see before me
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still
I believe that this is a hallucination of Macbeth’s. I also believe that it is as a result of the witches tormenting of Macbeth’s mind. Macbeth is so confused that he imagines the dagger in front of him. Without the witches Predictions, ultimately this would have not happened.
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Why Did Macbeth Kill Duncan?. (2017, Oct 20). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/why-did-macbeth-kill-duncan-essay