Comparing The Murder of Duncan in Macbeth and The Assassination of Kennedy

Comparing The Murder of Duncan in Macbeth and The Assassination of Kennedy

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Comparing The Murder of Duncan in Macbeth and The Assassination of Kennedy



        There is a man who is a head of state.  He is a very powerful man and is

well liked by his subjects.  The people love him.  Then he is suddenly,

inexplicably murdered.  Someone is blamed for the murder, but the entire country

knows the accused are innocent and are tools used in a cover-up.  Does this

situation sound bizarre?  Does it sound like some work of fiction?  Well, it is.

It is the beginning of William Shakespeare's Macbeth.  However, it is much more

than that.  It is real life.  It is the circumstances that surrounded one of the

most surreal periods of time in United States history.  It is the situation

surrounding the assassination of one of the US's most revered Presidents, John F.

Kennedy.  These circumstances suggest that the events which occur in the play

Macbeth are still possible.  It is possible for the circumstances surrounding

Macbeth to be repeated in modern day America because no protection provides

absolute safety, some men are still willing to do what Macbeth did, and the ac t

could still be covered up.


        No amount of protection provides absolute safety.  In today's world, it

is easier than ever to kill someone.  Any person can buy a cheap pistol and kill

someone.  It is also easier to kill without being caught.  There are long range

rifles and remote control explosives that can be used as the murder weapon while

the actual perpetrator is far away.  Also, it is easier than ever to find a

professional assassin who will kill anyone for the right amount of money.  These

latter methods could allow a person to commit murder and easily get away with it.

Even though the actual murderer may be caught, the person financing the

operation could get away untouched.


        In Macbeth, Duncan was well protected by his guards.  However, he was

still murdered.  The guards were overcome through a simple trick.  "The doors

are open, and the surfeited grooms Do mock their charge with snores.  I have

drugged their possets..."  says Lady Macbeth.  She had drugged their drinks, and

instead of guarding Duncan, they were asleep.  Macbeth was easily able to sneak

past them and kill Duncan.  Every precaution available had been taken to insure

Duncan's protection.  It is not an easy task to get past two armed bodyguards in

a cramped area.  However, through some deceit, Macbeth was able to accomplish

this.  This reaffirms the statement that no protection is absolute.


        Perhaps the best example that no protection is infallible occurs in the

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aforementioned situation involving President Kennedy.  Kennedy was in a moving

vehicle.  There were two Secret Service men directly behind him and countless

others in the crowd.  Dallas Police Department officers were placed throughout

the area.  Dealy Plaza, the site of the tragedy, was crowded, with many

obstructions such as trees, signs, and an overpass.  Protection was tight.  The

day was beautiful.  The sun was shining.  The setting was not right for

assassination.  However, it still occurred.  Kennedy was killed and the entire

nation stunned.  There was a Secret Service agent very close, yet he was not

able to stop the fatal bullet.  The limousine driver did not speed up in time to

get the President out of danger.  The agents in the crowd were unable to prevent

the deadly shots.  With that many people, with all those pre-cautions, President

Kennedy was still killed, proving that protection can be penetrated.


        Since the beginning of time, man has wanted power.  It is in his basic

nature.  It is what drives him.  The history of the world serves to prove this

fact.  Adam and Eve wanted power equal to God's so they ate the apple.  Caesar

struggled to become king and to gain power and was killed for his aspirations.

Napoleon had much power.  He used it to conquer half of Europe.  Hitler craved

power so badly he plunged the world into a war that preceded the detonation of

the atomic bomb.  Men crave power.  Some of them, like Adam and Eve, were

willing to sacrifice the perfect life to gain their power.  They had no jobs, no

wake-up calls.  They didn't even have to wear clothes!  Yet they were willing to

sacrifice all this  for the chance that they would have power like God.  So we

learn from the first story of the most popular book in the world that man is

willing to trade perfection for more power.


        Macbeth loved power.  Otherwise, he would never have murdered Duncan.

Macbeth was willing to trade anything to be king.  Macbeth was willing to

"...jump the life to come."  if he could kill Duncan and be done with it.  He

was willing to risk eternal damnation for a finite term as king of a small

country on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  How much more

tempting would it be for a man to kill to gain the position as the most powerful

man in the world?  The temptation would be tremendous.  Macbeth had second

thoughts on Duncan's murder going so far as to say "We will proceed no further

in this business."   He was persuaded to commit the murder after many arguments.

He does this to satisfy his craving for power.


        The President of the United States is the most powerful man in the world

today.  This is why he is also in more danger than most people.  The temptation

for the Vice-President to kill the President would be great.  Some say that this

temptation has even been realized.  When Kennedy was shot, it was only a matter

of hours before Vice-President Lyndon Johnson was sworn into the vacant office.

Was it possible that Johnson had Kennedy killed?  It is obvious that a massive

cover-up was managed.  The cover-up was arranged by someone in power.  Who has

more power than the President?  Johnson could easily have arranged such a

massive smoke-screen.  Men have killed for less and Johnson was in a position to

profit from the Presidency.  He gained large sums of money from his construction

company in Vietnam.  It can be argued that Johnson prolonged the war purposely

so he could reap more benefits from the war in Asia.  Whatever happened, Johnson

was rewarded with much power after the assassination of Kennedy.     Nobody

wants to tell the truth if it might get them in trouble.  A small child does

something wrong, they will usually deny having done it.  Teenagers often lie to

cover-up their late night parties.  Government officials lie to avoid scandals.

They are all lies.  The only difference is the complexity of the lie and the

number of people affected by it.  A small child cannot lie very well.  Teenagers

are somewhat better at it.  However, they are mere amateurs compared to

professional politicians.  This is true for several reasons.  Politicians have

the means to pay people to lie for them.  Sometimes they can threaten to expose

other's embarrassing secrets if they do not cooperate.  There are other

techniques that these people use to hide the truth.  However, the fact remains

that the more powerful the person, the better the cover-up.


        Macbeth was reasonably able to conceal the murder of Duncan.  He did

this in textbook fashion.  First, he found a scapegoat, Duncan's guards.  Lady

Macbeth cast the suspicion on them by making sure "Their hand and faces were all

badged with blood, So were their daggers, which unwiped we found Upon their

pillow."   Then Macbeth killed them, cutting off any chance they may have had of

defending themselves, claiming "The expedition of my violent love Outrun the

pauser of reason."  He had provided the perfect patsy.  They were covered with

Duncan's blood, as were their knives.  It would have been difficult to defend

themselves against this evidence even if they were still alive.  But when they

were dead, no defense could be offered and they were assumed guilty.  So, if

Macbeth had quit with this one murder, he would have gotten away with his crime

with no consequences.


        Who could have known that almost the same exact circumstances would be

repeated some 800 years later.  After President Kennedy was shot, there had to

be a cover up.  Someone had to shoulder the blame.  Someone had to take the fall.

Whether voluntarily or not, Lee Harvey Oswald was the man blamed with the

murder of JFK.  His palm-print was on the rifle that fired the fatal shot.  He

was seen leaving the building from which the shots supposedly came.  Oswald was

set up as the murderer from the beginning, the lone nut who killed the President.

And like the fall guys in Macbeth, he was murdered before he was given a chance

to defend himself.  This provides the perfect cover-up to be presented to the

American people.  Oswald acted alone.  He was crazy.  This provided a plausible

motive and excluded any chance of a possible conspiracy scandal.  The story

presented to the American public fit perfectly into the psychological make-up

that was supposedly Oswald.  He was simply acting like he was supposed  to and

this explained the murder of Kennedy.  In the years following the assassination,

more truth about the event has surfaced, rendering the Oswald character

impossible.  The people orchestrating the Kennedy cover-up made the same mistake

Macbeth made.  They were unwilling to leave their story alone.  They tried to

make themselves more secure by killing key witnesses and doctoring evidence, but

what they believed would make them safer, most probably aroused suspicions and

their entire story became unbelievable.  The conspirators in both situations

discredited their entire story by trying to secure themselves.


        Assassinating the President is a difficult thing to do.  It doesn't

happen very often.  However, it can be done.  If a person plans the crime, and

executes it according to plan, he can succeed in killing the President.  The

protection afforded the President is tremendous but not infallible.  Men are

willing to commit this crime in order to gain power.  If a proper cover-up is

planned and executed, then it is effective.  If all of these obstacles are

overcome properly, a man can assume the Presidency while not one hint of blame

is ever thrown his way.  All of this has been proven in this paper.  It is

possible for the plot of Macbeth to be repeated in today's world because no

protection provides absolute security, men are still willing to do what Macbeth

did, and the deed could still be covered up.



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