King Duncan's Murder in William Shakespeare's Macbeth
King Duncan's murder is a pivotal moment in the play as up until this
Macbeth has been able to choose what would happen to him whether he
would do the deed or not and after he has murdered Duncan there is no
going back. Macbeth
takes the choice to murder
Duncan of his own free
will and so most of the blame must be laid on him. This does not mean
that some other people did not influence Macbeth to do the deed.
wrote this play in 1606 at this time James I
of Scotland) just after the death of Queen Elizabeth. The king was
interested in Scotland and witchcraft, which explains the themes of
play. The themes are all about treachery witchcraft and death. The
story tells of a man who is driven to murder by the combination of a
prophecy and his lust for power. In the end the guilt of what they
have done drives both Macbeth and his wife insane. He has condemned
himself to hell by killing a
king. The divine right of kings is that God puts the King into his
that Macbeth has slain a servant of God and has therefore damned
his wife to a life of torment.
For the purpose of this essay I am going to see how Lady Macbeth and
the witches influenced Macbeth. The witches played a fairly big part
in influencing Macbeth as before he saw them he would never have
considered killing the King. The witches put the idea into his head
and after that greed took over. The witches didn't actually give him
the idea but they hinted at it
''All hail Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!''
''All hail Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!''
''All hail Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter.''
This was could be taken as more than a hint as they are telling him
out right he his to be king but they do not mention him actually
When Macbeth hears this he at first does not believe it but then the
first prophecy comes true and he becomes Thane of Cawdor and his
ambition begins to take over. The idea of killing Duncan doesn't
really seem like a realistic idea to him until he talks to his wife
and she has got the idea into her head
"Macbeth: My dearest love, Duncan comes here tonight.
Lady Macbeth: And whence goes he?
Macbeth: To-morrow, as he purposes.
Lady Macbeth: O, never shall sun that morrow see!"
They come up with a plan and Lady Macbeth is the person to drug the
guards and do all of the dirty work
"The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms
Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugged their
This shows how much Lady Macbeth had to do with the murder as she set
everything up and Macbeth just did the deed.
Macbeth has his last chance, he doesn't really want to kill the king
"We will proceed no further in this business:
He hath honoured me of late".
He could have just backed down but Lady Macbeth persuades him to do it
in many ways she questions his manhood
''Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would', Like the poor cat
She also says that ''Had he not resembled my father as he slept I had
meaning that Macbeth is a coward if he would not do it and she would
have done. Lady Macbeth had a really big part in persuading Macbeth to
kill Duncan, as without her he would never have done the deed.
I think that although Lady Macbeth and the Witches had a really big
influence on the death of Duncan. It is Macbeth and Macbeth alone who
can be held mostly responsible as he made the choice of his own free
will and at any point up to the murder of Duncan he could have stopped
and said no. The witches played a fairly big part as Macbeth would
never have even thought about killing the king before they told him
then they put the idea into his head and it stuck there. Lady Macbeth
played a huge part of getting Macbeth to kill Duncan as she set
everything up and all that had to happen was for Macbeth to pick up
the dagger and stab Duncan and she also had to put a lot of effort
into persuading him to do it.