Motivation, Consequence and Conscience: Macbeth Act 1, Scenes 5& 7

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  • Topic: Macbeth, Murder, The Great Reward
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  • Published : November 22, 2011
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In Macbeth, one of William Shakespeare's most famous plays, Macbeth is faced with very tough choices and encounters several moral dilemmas. In act one, it is revealed to him in a prophecy, proven to be accurate on two other occasions, that he is to become king. Although there's already a healthy and great king, Duncan, Macbeth – now convinced it is his destiny – begins to have indecent thoughts about how to make the thrown his own. His mind quickly brings him to the idea of murdering Duncan. He tells his wife, Lady Macbeth, of the prophecy and his intentions of murder and has her full support, as she is anxious for the throne to belong to her husband. In scenes five and seven of the first act of Macbeth, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both have significant motivating factors for murdering Duncan, but Lady Macbeth is less concerned with negative consequences and has a lighter conscience than Macbeth, who has a harder time convincing himself that he should and actually is capable of committing the crime.

Lady Macbeth is strongly motivated and therefore determined to murder Duncan and is not very concerned with matters of conscience or consequence. Her prime motivation for murdering Duncan is to see Macbeth be king. She is truly devoted to Macbeth; not talking of herself as queen but only him as king. This shows that her potent motivation to murder Duncan is not purely evil and selfish, but is an act of loyalty and love towards Macbeth. Her strong motivation and ambition easily override most of her conscience, but she also takes care to summon evil spirits to remove what is left of it. She commands, “Unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe topfull of direst cruelty;” showing her true desire to be free of guilt or pity in order to go through with her plan. Lady Macbeth doesn't think much on the negative consequences of murdering Duncan because she doesn't see how it could go wrong; she feels now that Macbeth shall become king no matter what, as it is meant to...
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