Why did Macbeth kill Duncan

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 864
Topics: Book, Macbeth, William Shakespeare


Macbeth’s fatal downfall did not result from any one factor. We can emphatically say it was caused by a specific combination of three dark forces: supernatural, external and internal. Supernatural energies are depicted by three witches and the dark forces behind them. Lady Macbeth is an external factor that convinces Macbeth to commit bloody acts. Macbeth’s inner ambition becomes the driving force that leads to his death. Even at the beginning of the play, it is clear dark supernatural forces will be involved. A group of strange sisters is preparing a secret for Macbeth, which will value his life and ultimately release his soul.

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Who is responsible for the death of Duncan?

The witches

The witches’ predictions are crucially important in helping Macbeth carry out his wicked deeds. The witches are the first to reveal Macbeth’s “black and deep desires”, predicting him the title of king in the near future. They deceive Macbeth, fulfilling his desire for the title of Thane of Cawdor, and he begins to believe his destiny is to become king. After this almost impossible prophecy comes true, Macbeth decides he must become a king. His royal dreams and ambitions begin to prevail over his moral values.

He is confident that “Two truths were told/As happy prologues to the swelling act/Of the imperial theme.” The dark forces “win him with honest trifles to betray in the deepest consequence.” They push Macbeth to think about killing Duncan, and moreover, lead to his decision to murder Banquo and his son, insisting that Banquo’s children will become kings. Throughout the plot, supernatural forces outwit and mislead Macbeth. In Act IV the ghosts, by manipulating words, convince him to continue on the bloody path, recommending him to be “bloody, bold, and resolute” and “have no fear”.

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Lady Macbeth

These predictions give Macbeth the conviction to slay even more victims, so that he will maintain no hope of preserving any virtue and the possibility of reformation. After the witches arouse in Macbeth the desire to become king, his wife begins to persuade Macbeth to perform the real deed — the murder of Duncan. Lady Macbeth believes she knows exactly her husband’s true dreams and decides that she must push Macbeth to achieve what he would never complete without her support.

She wants Macbeth to be king; she wishes the glory for him, not for herself. Lady Macbeth plays the role of a mother who forces her child to carry out things he doesn’t desire to do because she covets him to succeed in life. Lady Macbeth has no doubt that Macbeth must and is destined to become king, and never pays attention to her husband’s inner feelings and views. Macbeth’s intention to “proceed no further in this business” (I. vii) was not even considered as a potential consequence for her.

Lady Macbeth resorts to all possible manipulations to force her husband to kill Duncan. She uses Macbeth’s love for her as a tool, saying that if he doesn’t murder the king, he doesn’t absolutely care for her. She questions his manhood, claiming he will come to be “so much more a man” after slaying Duncan. Lady Macbeth shows Macbeth how confident and cruel he should be by informing him that she — a woman who should be cordial and sensitive — is capable of killing her own child: “I would, while it [baby] was smiling in my face, Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn As you have done to this.” (I. vii. 61-64) The woman played with Macbeth’s feelings for her, his courage, morality, and uncertainty to make Macbeth do what she believes will bring him success and comfort in life. The witches and Lady Macbeth undoubtedly tried to convince her husband to kill Duncan and therefore continue the series of terrible murders. Nevertheless, Macbeth was not an ordinary puppet that could be absolutely controlled. He was a strong enough man who could resist external influences and carry out his own decision thoughtfully.


As a result, Macbeth allowed his wife and the witches to force him to do what he believed was wrong because in fact he wanted to be convinced. Indeed, Macbeth’s thoughts about the royal title originated even before his fateful meeting with the witches. This illuminates his inexplicable reaction after he heard their prophecies. Banquo remarked with surprise: “Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear Things that do sound so fair?” Macbeth is frightened and expresses doubts after receiving powerful predictions that he will become Thane of Cawdor and King.

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The logical explanation for this is that the witches guess his inner desires and catch him thinking about such a miserable thing as killing Duncan. Another convincing evidence in favor of the fact that Macbeth planned to kill Duncan is the reaction of Lady Macbeth after she read his letter. Her thoughts immediately expand on the absurd idea of murder, despite the fact that the letter does not barely mention murder. Hence, in conclusion, it becomes explicit to us that Macbeth had long sought to carry out the terrible murder of King Duncan and had repeatedly discussed it with Lady Macbeth.

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  1. Shakespeare, W. (1992). Macbeth. Wordsworth Editions.
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