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Macbeth Essay Essay, Research Paper

Macbeth by William Shakespeare Essay- Final Draft

Q: Who is most responsible for the death of King Duncan? (Acts I and II).

There are certain times in life when a person commits an action not entirely of his own accord but under the influence of others. Through this person s weakness of will, and vaulting ambition is this action performed. However this guiding force only focuses upon urges already present in that person s mind, such as ambition, whereby it is still the person who is to be blamed, not the guiding force itself. In Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, it becomes clear that Macbeth is most responsible for the death of King Duncan. Macbeth s actions were carried out of his own volition, although the Three Witches and Lady Macbeth helped already-present seeds of evil to grow, which in turn allowed him to succumb to their evil ways. Driven by his own greed, once Macbeth realized that he had a chance of becoming king, he didn t let anything or anyone stand in his way. Simplistically, Macbeth s own gullibility and vaulting ambition led him to murder King Duncan.

Throughout Acts I and II, Macbeth is constantly reminded of the influence the three witches and Lady Macbeth have embedded upon him. In Act One Scene Three, when Macbeth encounters The Three Witches for the first time and orders them to speak, they reply (lines 48-50),

1st Witch All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!

2nd Witch All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

3rd Witch All hail, Macbeth! that shall be king hereafter.

It is the last two lines of these statements that first spur his opinions on issues beyond his own doings. This is where Macbeth starts to consider taking that which is not his. However, no connection of the witches dialogue with Macbeth to any of his own actions was even hinted by the witches; meaning they didn t give him any instructions on anything to do in order to make these goals become reality. In Act I Scene III lines 141-143, Macbeth, to himself says: If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, Without my stir. This indicates that he will leave whether he will be crowned king or not, up to fate, and that he, himself, will provide no interference. Then, in Act I Scene IV when Duncan declares Malcolm his successor and that he will be hereafter known as Prince of Cumberland, Macbeth realizes he has a decreased chance of becoming king and is unsure what to do about it. Upon Macbeth s entrance into his castle, Lady Macbeth begins to instruct him in her plan to murder King Duncan. Macbeth is hesitant to kill the king but the lady is ambitious and seeks the power of a queen. Although it is by Macbeth s hand that King Duncan was murdered, she acts as the driving force of evil that instigates the murder of Duncan. Furthermore, Macbeth, in Act I Scene VII, when discussing the matter with his wife, decides not to kill the king, saying: We ll go no further in this business. He has honored me recently, and I ve won great respect from all sorts of people. After some more of Lady Macbeth s taunting, Macbeth gives in, proving how gullible he is.

Macbeth, at the beginning of the play seems to be quite the noble person. He is characterized as being very dedicated and honorable. He fights courageously in the battle against Norway, which proves his loyalty, and then he is appointed Thane of Cawdor, which proves that he is honorable in the eyes of royalty. However, as soon as the witches spark ambition in him, he is no longer trustworthy and slowly but surely becomes evil and deceiving. He is never satisfied with any part of the witches prophecies and always wants to know more. Gradually, his lust for power and his vaulting ambition increase. Even before he reaches his castle, thoughts of murder creep into his head and slowly he is overcome with the desire to be powerful. At this point in the play, Macbeth’s ambition starts to take a more serious root. The seed of evil has been planted, and it is consistently growing larger. Macbeth (under the proper influences of course (see paragraph 2)) becomes bloodthirsty and power stricken, forcing himself further and further into a web of ambition from which he is unable to detach himself. Furthermore, it has become a matter of him believing he deserves the royal crown to such an extent that he can and will kill for it. He then murders Duncan so that he will become the new king. Macbeth’s ambition is directly a cause of this tragic incident. Macbeth, while trying to stay powerful, also becomes paranoid. He envisions seeing an imaginary, gory dagger leading him to Duncan s room. He tries to grasp it, but just fondles the empty air. In Act II Scene I, lines 33-35, Macbeth says: Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. He continues to fell slight signs of discomfort, perhaps increasing gradually.

Shakespeare is a master playwright who creates the ingenious personalities of well thought out characters through noticeable traits, social positions, motives for decisions, and overall characteristics such as these with Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and The Three Witches. Through Macbeth s overall gullibility and vaulting ambition, it becomes noticeable that Macbeth is the most responsible for the death of King Duncan.


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