The Forces at Work in Act 1 that Lead Macbeth to Murder King Duncan
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Shakespeare’s MacBeth is a story of a hero turned villain and I will be analysing the events and circumstances in which this tremendous change of character happens and whether MacBeth is to blame or if he is a victim of circumstance.
The witches had the biggest influence on MacBeth in my opinion because they effectively seeded his mind with the idea that he actually could become king. Not that he hadn’t thought of it before, but that he could actually achieve it with in his own life time and it is this single idea that begins to worp his courageous and honourable mind into and scheming and treacherous one.
Also the fact that Shakespeare makes Macbeth echo the witches riddle “foul is fair and fair is foul” in his opening line when he says “so foul and fair a day I have not seen.” This to me implicates that MacBeth is already connected with the witches in some way and this may also be the reason way he is so egger to hear the witches prophesies. Combined with the fact that in Shakespeare’s day witches were widely believed in, feared by most because of there powers and blamed for most things that went wrong i.e. crops failed and bad weather, means that MacBeth isn’t holly on the good side for life. Also in the beginning of the play the witches mention that they will meet MacBeth. This to me suggests that they already know that he will listen to them further shrouding the witches in a magical vial.
After Lady MacBeth Here’s of the prophesises by the witches and that MacBeth has become the Thane of Cawdor, she instantly begins to plot how Macbeth is to become king and rather quickly reaches the conclusion that they will murder Duncan. She also takes into account that MacBeth would not do the deed if it were left up to him “Too full o’ the milk of human kindness….” so she asks evil spirits to be fill with cruelty sufficient for both of them
“From the crown to the toe, top full of direst cruelty.”
When Macbeth tell Lady MacBeth that “We will proceed no further in this business” but lady MacBeth Makes short work of this by telling MacBeth that if she had promised to kill her own child, she would do it with out a second thought and insults his manhood. After this she goes back in and behaves very normally all this suggests to me that Lady MacBeth is a bit of a witch her self and is very evil.
When we first hear about MacBeth in the play Shakespeare portrays him as a hero in battle and a soldier who left to inform the king of MacBeth’s victory describes him as “Bellona’s bridegroom” Bellona being the goddess of war. This makes king Duncan very proud and he confers the title of traitor cawdor who had just been defeated upon MacBeth making him the new “Thane of Cawdor”.
However after the witches prophesies to Macbeth, we see that he begins thinking of how he could become king and when King Duncan declares that his eldest son to be his successor Macbeth begins to think how he would get past this
“this is a step /on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap’.” He then goes on to say “let not light see my black and deep desires” this to me is his conciseness coming back into play and he is aware what he might have to do and doesn’t wont anyone to notice what he’s contemplating. Closer to the time when MacBeth is going to kill Duncan, his suppressed conscience come back in to play in a last bid for the dead and MacBeth comes up with several go reasons for not killing Duncan
* He would get caught “But in these cases/ we still have judgement here.”
* The king trusts him “He’s here in double trust.”
* Duncan is a loved and good king “This Duncan/ Hath bourne his faculties so meek, hath been/ So clear in his great office….”
* MacBeth is against the whole thing “I have no spur/ To prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Vaulting ambition.”
He tells his wife that he has made his mind up and is not going to kill Duncan immediately after this “We will proceed no further in this business.” But it didn’t take her long to change his mind again.
The influences surrounding MacBeht have earned him the title of victom but he is also a villain because he found it easy to kill after he became king though means of murder and did so ignoring his conscience completely except when it screamed at him in the form of banqoue’s ghost.
In Shakespeare’s time there was a strong belief in witches and witchcraft but has always been associated with evil and people who knew better would have consider the witches prophesies to be a trick or some sort of scam to send them to the underworld. So MacBeth being an educated noble, should have ignored the witches and not taken the prophesies to hart.
The witches are not the starting point for MacBeth’s want to become king. After all who among us can truly say that they haven’t thought of them selves becoming or as a ruler of one’s own kingdom, but the push that set him on the line between to do or not and Lady MacBeth as the final push that sent him over the edge.
Also in Shakespeare’s time, people strongly believed in “Fate” so this should and is shown in the play through the witches and naturally is apart of my consideration and evaluation of this play. However, I myself don’t strongly believe in fate but in chance and that some things are more likely to happen than others. So in my opinion fate doesn’t play a big part in the play but the way in which it is perceived by the characters and the people of the day the witches merely taking advantage of this and making it harder for MacBeth not to kill Duncan.
When it came to killing Duncan, MacBeth’s conscience made one last try to stop him with the illusion of a flouting dagger stained with blood. Nevertheless MacBeth still kills Duncan, this to me shows just how much control his wife and his ambition had over him and how much loyalty to the king really meant to him. Another example of this is when MacBeth says “We shall proceed not further in this business.” However, Lady MacBeth accuses him of cowardice and he changes his mind again. This to me is a very good sign of how well his wife knew him and she was able to manipulate him every quickly.
Therefore, overall in my opinion MacBeth is a Victim of his own ignorance, not to relies the extant he was being manipulated and a Villain, for after becoming king he killed without a second thought.