Explication of a Key Passage: Macbeth Act I, Scene Vii Soliloquy

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  • Topic: Macbeth, KILL, King Duncan
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  • Published : August 15, 2010
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“If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well
it were done quickly. If the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,
With his surcease, success, that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’ld jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgement here, that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor. This even-handed justice
Commends the ingredience of our poisoned chalice
To our own lips. He’s here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
And falls on the other—“ (Macbeth I, vii, 1-28).

This passage is from Macbeth act one scene seven. In this passage, Macbeth is by himself and speaking to himself. Throughout this passage, Macbeth contemplates whether or not he should kill King Duncan. At first, he is determined to kill Duncan. However, he begins to think about the consequences of him killing Duncan. He fears the consequences of murder, especially the condemnation of society. At first, he gives one reason why he should kill Duncan, but counters it with five reasons. At the end of the passage, he decides to not kill Duncan, but will eventually be manipulated by Lady Macbeth. Macbeth says that the only thing motivating him to kill Duncan is ambition, which can make one...
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