The Witches And Lady Macbeth Are Responsible For The Death Of Duncan. Essay, Research Paper
During the epoch that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth (the Elizabethan era), regicide was deemed the most scandalous breach of the law in this country, because the ruling sovereign had the Divine Right of Kings. This meant that the monarch had infallibility. Important factors to take into consideration are;
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Macbeth made the decisive choice
The witches manipulated his thoughts, and images worked his mind
Lady Macbeth manipulated his heart.
However, the witches and Lady Macbeth do supply a mitigating state of affairs for Macbeth?s degree of guilt
In the play Macbeth we can argue that there are three possible choices for who is most responsible for the murder of King Duncan. The first choice is the witches. In the whole of the play they symbolise darkness and make a morally corrupt atmosphere. In Elizabethan times they were regarded as evil so these prophecies would be thought of as evil.
Macbeth first meets them after the battle against the Norway and they predict that he will be Thane of Cawdor and then King. At first he can not believe this but when he finds out he is Thane of Cawdor he and Banquo are surprised. Banquo says, ‘Can the devil speak true?’ in surprise. This shows us they did not expect the witches to be telling the truth. After this Macbeth seems to be astonished, which shows he is deep in thought about the third prophecy. Therefore, we could argue that the witches make him feel that he will be king and that it is his destiny. He is always thinking about the prophecies after this and drops hints to Banquo, for example he says, ‘Let us speak our free hearts to each other’. He is trying to see whether Banquo would be interested in helping him. It also shows his great interest and desire for the throne. The prophecies also show he has been demonically possessed, due to the fact that at the end of act one, he invites spirits to possess his body, by saying, ?come you spirits?. Finally at the start of scene act two, he tells the audience he his having visions by the quote, ?Is this is a dagger I see before me?.
However, we could argue that the witches put real ideas to him that are already in his head. He has great ambition and may already want to be king so the witches therefore could not be totally responsible and just act as a catalyst. What I mean by this is that the witches change Macbeth?s outlook upon the crown, but not be directly involved while they do this. We can see it is quite easy to resist the witches as demonstrated by Banquo. This shows us he can control his thoughts, but Macbeth, however, has a weak point and can not control his vaulting ambition.
The second factor is Lady Macbeth. Macbeth writes a letter to her telling her of the witches’ prophecies. He writes this letter because he wants the crown and knows she will have to push him to get it. She drives him to the murder and acts as a more physical catalyst than the witches. She bullies him, emotionally blackmails him and knows he is morally sensitive so he must be pushed. She mocks his bravery and knows he is a warrior and will be insulted. When Macbeth is having doubts she says,
‘When you durst do it, then you were a man; and, to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man’. What she means by this is if he does the deed, he will be more of a man.
She answers every objection he comes up with. Before the murder Macbeth says, ‘If we should fail’ she replies, ‘we fail?’ She is surprised by him thinking negatively because she believes there is no way they will fail, but Macbeth doubts their ability to cover up the truth. She also organises the fine details of the murder. The main part is when she goes to put the daggers back. Macbeth has returned from the murder scene and brought the daggers with him. She is annoyed with him because he is being careless and is too scared to go back after the murder. She goes and puts them back herself. Lady Macbeth plays a key role as she removes her feminine caring feelings so she can push Macbeth to carry out the murder. Despite this, she does show a moment of humanity, when saying she cannot murder Duncan, for the fact he resembles her father.
Then there is Macbeth himself. The main argument is that he commits the murder. He is driven to the murder because of the thought of being king. It is the ambition in his mind that is crucial. He knows that Duncan is a good man and has never done any wrong to him. He owes him gratitude for the honours he has given him. Macbeth is his kinsman, one of the elite and one of his generals. He is his subject, and should not murder his ruler if he has done nothing wrong. He is also the host and should prevent someone murdering him and not do it himself. He also says ‘He hath honour’d me of late’ which is saying he has received the title of Thane of Cawdor. He says that he should enjoy all the praise he receives and not throw it away. All this shows us that Macbeth is simply too intelligent to be a puppet being used, he is aware of all the consequences but still wants to be king. Also, he could have backed out at any point. There are many opportunities when he allows Lady Macbeth to push him around. When he first meets her he could have said to her that he was not prepared to take extreme measures or right until the end he could have backed out. So an important point is about when Macbeth says he could wait and gain the crown in an honourable way (If chance may crown me then doves may have me king). Although I still think that Macbeth was responsible the most for the murder of King Duncan. He committed it and let ambition rule him despite knowing the consequences. His ambition was the spur to prick his intent. I think the other two factors are less important but in a way acted as catalysts for the murder, as I have said.