Compare And Contrast The Murders Of Duncan And Of Banquo
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A Shakespearean audience would find the murder of Duncan much more brutal compared to a modern days audience. Because he is king a Shakespearean audience would feel deeply hurt for all the characters in the play, as they know Macbeth has killed a very important person whom they believe is their equivalent to God. Also the audience would be petrified at what he will do next as a Shakespearean audience would know that he can’t commit another murder, which is worse than killing the King.
On the other hand the murder of Duncan would have a different effect on today’s audience. We have stopped believing in the ‘Rights of Kings’ and do not generally have everything based around the King/Queen. A modern audience would not consider the murder of Duncan as worse a crime as a Shakespearean audience would have thought. We wouldn’t be very shocked compared to a Shakespearean audience who would be scared and horrified at Macbeth. In Shakespeare’s time an audience would have a completely different attitude about the King, as he ruled the army and the country. Now days the Prime Minister takes charge in these matters.
The witches also play a part in the effects on the audience. A Shakespearean audience would find the witches terrifying as they can prophesise what will happen in the future. But a modern day audience wouldn’t find the witches very threatening at all. The reason is witches in society in Shakespeare’s time were believed to be full of evil and their spitefulness was shown in all of their language. People in Shakespeare’s time had many ways of finding out if someone was a witch, which involved killing them if the one convicted was not a witch, e.g. pushing them off a cliff and if they were a witch they would fly away and if they were not they would go to heaven.
For the murder of Duncan, Macbeth was the main person who had the idea of killing him. Other people had influenced his choice. Lady Macbeth played a big part; she finally made Macbeth commit the terrible deed. The reason Macbeth had the idea was because he had that small bit of evil lurking inside him. Lady Macbeth just brought the idea to the front of his mind along with the help of the witches who told him that he would be king. The persuasion by Lady Macbeth could be argued that it brought out the true evil lurking inside Macbeth. The words Macbeth says to show the audience it was mainly his idea to kill the king are: “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical” and “Are less than horrible imaginings”.
There are also more words, which show us Macbeths thoughts: “and nothing is but what is not”. Here he shows the future is unclear and “smothered”. The murder of Banquo is similar to the murder of Duncan in some ways. A similarity could be that they were both Macbeth’s ideas. As I have explained about whose idea it was to murder Duncan, the murder of banquo was also thought up by Macbeth. But the death of Banquo had a big difference involved inside it. This was that Macbeth thought up the murder and with no help at all. Macbeth also had not told anyone about the murder of Banquo therefore everything had to be his own idea with Lady Macbeth’s words: “What’s to be done?” and Macbeth replies “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck”. Then Lady Macbeth speaks again: “Be especially nice to Banquo” which implies she doesn’t know about Macbeths plan to kill Banquo and Fleance.
A difference between the two murders is that the first murder, of Duncan, is planned by Lady Macbeth. We could argue this, but Lady Macbeth is the one who organises Macbeth’s thoughts and forces him to do the murder with words like: “coward”. Macbeth doesn’t really plan the murder. He is made to do it by the preparatory work done by Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth says the words: “What luck” when Duncan is coming, and says to Macbeth just like she is in charge: “Play your role and leave the rest to me”. Here there is difference as Macbeth is totally in charge of Banquo’s murder with no help from Lady Macbeth.
Therefore I think that Duncan’s murder would have more of an effect on an audience as the first seems much more unorganised and makes the audience in more of a ‘hot seat’. Also Macbeth is quite clever in the way he deals with the murderers. He says to them that he wants them to kill Banquo and just cleverly adds on to that while you kill Banquo can you bump off Fleance also: “That I require a clearness: and with him- To leave no rubs nor botches in the work- Fleance his son, that keeps him company, Whose absence is no less material to me”. Overall Shakespeare makes the play very simple in both the murders: A similarity is that both the murders are very basic and simple i.e. they are not very complicated at all. We know this by the method Shakespeare uses of ‘stabbing him, and blaming it on someone else’. Macbeth kills the king when he is asleep and can’t finish it off so Lady Macbeth does and puts the daggers near the guards so they look responsible.
Another big difference is Macbeth’s reactions and thoughts before he kills Duncan and before he kills Banquo. Before he kills Duncan, the king, he is very upset, lost of courage and is then not wanting to commit the murder. This is different from Banquo’s murder, as Macbeth doesn’t hang around like he did when he killed Duncan. Macbeth carefully and quickly, with no hesitation, sends out murderers to kill Banquo. He also shows no sign of emotions and regrets, and is full of confidence: “Good things of day begin to droop and drowse, whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse” and “Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill. So prithee go with me”.
Macbeth also uses murderers to kill Banquo, which is a difference compared to himself actually killing Duncan in the first murder. This could also spark a different effect on the audience as they actually see the killing of Banquo and not the killing of Duncan on stage. This could be because killing a king and killing a friend are different things. Killing a king is much worse, as a king was thought of as just like a God, whereas Banquo is just a good friend to Macbeth. Also Duncan was quite a good friend to Macbeth and a relative who he fought wars for. This can make the audience feel very sad indeed.
The first murder has a lot of differences in it compared to the second. Macbeth doesn’t want to commit the murder and so there is lots of doubts and worrying from him, but he is eventually persuaded to do it by Lady Macbeth. The words Macbeth says are: ” We will proceed no further in this business. He hath honoured me of late” and when Macbeth begins to “waver” he says words like “I dare do all that may become a man; who dares do more is none” and “If we should fail”. These sayings by Macbeth are a big difference compared to the second murder. He also seems very hesitant and has uncertain feelings before he commits the deed. He speaks to his dagger, which reassures him and he describes the horror of the crime: “When we have marked with blood those sleepy two Of his own chamber, and used their very daggers”. He also fears: that the stones on which he walks will give him away.
Also the murder of Duncan has a lot more involvement of Lady Macbeth in to help Macbeth do the terrible deed. Lady Macbeth is not very happy with Macbeth and so she tries to put him back on straight terms to commit the murder. She says words like: “We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we’ll not fail”. Again we see the ferociousness of Lady Macbeth and her determination, which is a difference from the second murder as she is not involved, when she says the words: “How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me- I would while it was smiling in my face Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this”. Lady Macbeth eventually encourages Macbeth to commit the murder and the effect on the audience would be huge when he finally decides to do it. The audience would be gasping in horror, as it is such a crime to kill the king. Also another part of the reaction of Macbeth’s to kill the king compared to killing Banquo is that it needed plenty of persuasion.
In the first murder of Duncan there is hardly any evil inside Macbeth just anger, but a lot is inside Lady Macbeth. This changes when Macbeth needs to kill Banquo. He is even more evil towards Banquo even though killing the king is much worse than killing a friend. The effect on the audience is quite different as they realise he is being much more evil when he kills a friend who is nowhere near as important as the king. The audience is horror struck with his different reactions to the king and his friend. Being more evil to Banquo shows to the audience that he does care for the king and that he did not want to do it, but the evil present here shows the audience he will not turn back.
The comparisons after the murders had taken place are that there were different effects. In the first murder Macbeth’s after affects were terrible, and they made the audience feel sad for him. The words he says are: “Cawdor shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more” and “I am afraid to think what I have done. Look on’t again I dare not”. Here Macbeth is completely traumatized, and so he is unable to finish the deed. He also regrets it straight away when he looks at his hands: “This is a sorry sight”. Lady Macbeth then shows no emotions to the death of the king and completes the murder. The audience would be really sad and horrified at Lady Macbeth as she is able to complete such a deed. It could be argued here that Lady Macbeth shows no effects after the second murder and no effects after the first murder. The difference is with Macbeth. When he murdered Duncan he was full of emotion and regrets, but when he heard Banquo was killed he showed no emotions and regrets at all: “Thou art the best o’ th’ cut-throats, yet he’s good That did the like for Fleance. If thou didst it, Thou art the nonpareil””.
The death of Banquo was like a revenge where he was full of evil and determined no to pull away from the deed. Later the effects that Macbeth showed after killing Banquo could be argued. The reason is that his emotions changed when he saw Banquo’s ghost in his seat at the banquet table. The audience would be shocked, as only the murderer of someone would see the spirit/ghost. Here we can see that Macbeth does have after effects of the murder, therefore it is a similarity between the first murder. Macbeth acts in a really peculiar fashion after he sees the ghost of Banquo: “Which of you have done this?” and “Thou canst not say I did it; never shake Thy gory locks at me”. The similarity is shown also when Ross speaks to everyone about Macbeth: “Gentlemen rise, his Highness is not well”.
It does seem quite ironic that Banquo is here in the banquet. Also to back up the view that Lady Macbeth didn’t know anything about the killing of Banquo by Macbeth’s murderers, at the banquet table Lady Macbeth didn’t see the ghost of Banquo, only Macbeth did. An audience would react in that it must be Macbeth that has killed Banquo, as they would know why the ghost appears. The effect of the ghost would make it memorable for the audience, as it is a vital part in the play which demonstrates what an audience in Shakespeare’s day would believe if a person was murdered and what visions others would have. It also shows the guilt inside Macbeth.
Another difference in the play is the involvement of the witches. In the first murder the witches have played a vital part, they have brought the idea of being king and killing the king to the front of Macbeth’s mind: “All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter”. In the second murder the witches don’t play as big a part in the killing of Banquo. Macbeth just acts on what he thinks are right, as he doesn’t stop and wonder what he will do next. He knows he must kill Banquo and so he goes and does it using three murderers swiftly. But the witches also play a part in that they prophesise at the beginning of the play: “Thou shalt get Kings, though thou be none”. Here it is saying Banquo’s descendants will be kings, not him. This is asking Banquo, what will happen to him?
One more difference between the two murders is the setting. The first murder takes place in the Kings bedroom, whereas the second murder of Banquo is taken place in a park near the palace. Also a similarity between the two deaths is that they both contain a lot of violence. Especially in the first murder there is lots of blood everywhere: “Go carry them, and smear the sleepy grooms with blood”. In the murder of Banquo he shouts: “O treachery! Fly good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! Thou mayst revenge. O slave”. This shows us, and the audience watching, how cruel Macbeth is, but it doesn’t seem the horrible death Macbeth actually committed on Duncan.
Overall I think that the murder of Duncan would have the most effect on an audience. Because in theory killing a king (Duncan) would have the most impact on an audience, but by the time of Banquo’s death, the audience has got to know him. Then they will feel more saddened by his unjust death. The first murder has much more detail compared to the second, which can spark more interest for the audience with all the aggravation of making Macbeth do the deed. The second murder has many differences between the murder of Duncan. These include Macbeth getting better at being dishonest for example when he persuades the murderers to kill Banquo and while there at it kill Fleance. He seems much smarter and more confident. We could argue that this has more of an effect on the audience as they see how much Macbeth has changed from a war-hero to a villain,
and it makes them feel more disgusted at Macbeth. To finally conclude this essay an audience would find both murders sickening, but the first murder would seem to have a bigger effect. This is because it has many things that the second murder of Banquo has not got. This includes the feelings and actions of Macbeth before both of the murders. In the first he is much more resistant,
which I think would have a much bigger effect on the audience. The second murder doesn’t have any resistance from Macbeth and emotions, so it doesn’t keep the audience on the edge of their seat, which is the opposite compared to the murder of Duncan.