Topics: Macbeth, Three Witches, James I of England Pages: 10 (3634 words) Published: April 2, 2013
Who do you blame most for King Duncan's Death? 

Who do you blame for king Duncan’s death? Consider the role of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and the Witches. 

When answering this question you need to consider the roles of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and the Witches. From this we need to also consider when the play was written and in what context the audience saw the characters in the time when the plays were written.  Shakespeare was commissioned to write the play by James I of England who was also James IV of Scotland in the same period and was the new King of England. James I was obsessed and paranoid about witches, so much so that he wrote a book on the subject titled Demonology; at this time everyone believed in the existence of the supernatural, and when the Witches came on to the stage they would not be seen as funny or laughable but as sinister and scary. James I mother, Mary Queen of Scots had been executed on the charge of treason, his father Lord Darnley had been assassinated. James I had inherited a time of political turmoil and confusion through the church and the monarchy’s ideology; and a time where political murder and revenge murder were commonplace. James I himself had, had two assassination attempts made on his life. The second of these was in 1605 and is well known to this day it was the Gunpowder Plot; this may be why the murder of King Duncan isn’t in the play because it may insight ideas about murdering King James I, also showing the murder may make James I seem less divine. James I would be seen as less divine because if a King is seen to be murdered on stage while he is asleep with no struggle them he may be seen by the public as faulted and fallible. 

In Shakespeare’s period people believed there was a greater power controlling life, and as long as this divine order was maintained chaos wouldn’t take control. The murder of the king would throw the system into chaos; the murder would not only be a crime against the state but more importantly a crime against god. At the top of the chain is god with ultimate power over everything, then King, Thanes, citizens, and finally animals.  Macbeth is thane of Glamis at the start and is then also Thane or Cawdor, this gives him a duty to the King and god that he must obey as they are his superiors. The audience believed that life is an act of God and terminating one so close to god would be a sinful act. This is shown in Macbeth by dark clouds appearing on the horizon and all of Scotland being shrouded in darkness for the totality of the play, this is meant to represent the evil brewing in Scotland. It is only when the king is finally killed that the country becomes totally dark, concealed natural imagery vanishes from the kingdom as evil takes control. Killing a king, even today in modern society is the utmost crime. It is the only crime in the United Kingdom, which still caries the death penalty. For such an act the only words which spark the beginning of the murder comes from the witches who recite a prophecy to Macbeth. 

The Witches play an important role in the killing of King Duncan as they are the ones who plant the idea into Macbeth’s head. The witches appear amongst thunder and lightning. This dark weather creates a sign of things to come, and signals the arrival of evil to Scotland. It could be argued that the witches bring the dark weather and that they summon it as each entrance is met with thunder and lightning. Thunder and lightning are representative of unknown powers and are a destructive force much like the witches. Shakespeare wanted to give the effect of an unknown element and give the witches an air of chaos by uniting them with mystical elements, and adding to their unpredictable nature and so increasing the impact they have on the people watching the play. This is also represented through their controlled verse and rhyme indicating a cruel and organized manner and the events they claim to have caused: In act 1 scene 3 this is shown by one...
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