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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.