The Third Murderer in Shakespeare's Macbeth

Good Essays
The Third Murderer in Macbeth

Although Shakespeare had a great flare for plot material, he often had trouble with loose ends. Many times, seemingly important people will disappear from the script; they are never seen again. And other times, characters will suddenly appear out of nowhere. One such inconsistency is the identity of the third murderer in Macbeth.

At the beginning of 3.3, the third murderer makes his entrance.

FIRST MURDERER: But who did bid thee join with us?


SECOND MURDERER: He needs not our mistrust: since he delivers/ Our offices and what we have to do/ To the direction just. (3.3.1-4)

It is clear that the other two murderers had no prior knowledge that another would be joining them. The shortness of response by the Third Murderer may indicate that he is lying about who sent him. If Macbeth had hired a third man, he probably would have informed the original murderers. Much speculation is put to the thought that Macbeth sent one of his aides as a sort of baby-sitter to make sure that everything went as planned. The most popular choices as chaperones are Seyton and Ross (Iago; Spielbauer). However, if Macbeth had sent another man, wouldn't he also have instructed him to report back to him? The First Murderer is the only one to return to the castle. The Second and Third Murderer disappear and the audience never sees them again. If the additional man were Seyton or Ross, wouldn't it have been he who would take the news back to Macbeth? If perchance, Macbeth's spy should have made it back before the First Murderer arrived, why would Macbeth put on such a show of surprise at the events of the evening? Unless one of them was working on his own wi...

... middle of paper ...

...nted about it, which would prove that he didn't want them to die. Most of all, it was possible for him to be there. All other suspects would probably have been other wise tied up with more important things to do. Of course, there is always the theory that the Third Murderer is just another Bum Joe from the street who really needed a job. But that would be disappointing, wouldn't it?


Gathergood, William. http://www. shakespeare. com/nwcwg/old/quer 082095001523. html. Nov. 11, 1996.

Iago, and Beth Smarr. http://www. shakespeare. com/nwcwg/students/quer 031096134358.html. Nov. 11, 1996.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Prentice Hall Literature: The English Tradition. Ed. Jack Armistead et al. New Jersey: Prentice, 1989. 223-303.

Spielbauer, Bruce. http://www. shakespeare. com/nwcwg/students/quer 031096133433. html. Nov. 11, 1996.
Get Access