Shakespeare's Macbeth - The Proud Characters of Macbeth and Duncan

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Duncan's and Macbeth's downfalls in Shakespeare's play Macbeth results from their reluctance to question the motives and actions of others. It was that absolute trust, believing that no one would try to rise up against them, that foreshadows the murders of both characters. Duncan, the first to fall prey to over-confidence, trusted the Thane of Cawdor completely until he discovered that the Thane was a traitor who was betraying him. In Macbeth's case, he believed the prophecies of the three witches without realizing that they have ulterior motives behind their glimpses of the future. Mabeth shows similar weakness when he accepts the vague statements of the apparitions as absolute fact instead of considering and acting rationally upon them. These poor displays of judgement by Macbeth and Duncan allow them to be taken advantage of at various times in the play.

"There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face: He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust" (I, iv, 11-4). With this statement, Duncan illustrates his recognition of his inability to tell the character of an individual by looking at him. He is referring to the Thane of Cawdor who, during the civil war, helped try to overthrow Duncan's rule of Scotland. As a king, Duncan is well received which perhaps allows him to consider himself untouchable. He assumes that no one would have any reason to hurt or disobey him and so he allows his personal safety standards to fall to dangerous levels. This lack of concern also accounts for the manner in which he is unprotected while sleeping at Mabeth's castle. Duncan is governed by his ego to such an extent that he dismisses this breech of security by killing the disloyal Thane rather than try to cor...

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