Macbeth's Motivation for Murdering Duncan
What Implications Would This Murder Have For A Contemporary Audience?";"At the beginning of the play we are told about Macbeth. He is a good swordsman, as a captain describes what he did ‘Which ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, Till he unseam’d him from the to the chops’. This shows that he is powerful when it comes to fighting for his King and country. He is also loyal to his King because King Duncan is his friend too. When the Thane of Cawdor was found guilty of treason, Duncan says, ‘And with his former title greet Macbeth’ and ‘What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won’. This means that Macbeth is worthy of becoming Thane of Cawdor, so what the former Thane has lost, his title and life, Macbeth has won or gained.
This play was written and acted out in the Jacobean period. At this time people believed in witches, witchcraft and the supernatural. This made the play more believable. The audience already knew the type of things that they thought witches could do. They thought that they could control the weather and the winds, that they could predict the future, disappear into thin air and that they could stop people from sleeping forever. At this time, James I was King. The play backed up the idea that Kings were appointed by God and that they were higher in the chain of being than man. Also that Kings had golden blood, ‘His silver skin, lac’d with his golden blood’ and ‘Most sacrilegious murther hath broke ope The Lord’s annointed Temple’.
When Macbeth first sees the witches he asks them to speak, ‘Speak if you can: what are you?’. They reply ‘All hail Macbeth, hail to thee Thane of Glamis’. Macbeth already knew that but he was intrigued to know how they knew. ‘All hail Macbeth, hail to thee Thane of Cawdor’ Then straight after that ‘All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter’. Banquo can’t believe what they have just said. He asks ‘Are ye fantastical, or that indeed which outwardly ye show’? I don’t think that he believes that they are really there. While Macbeth is ‘rapt’, Banquo asks for them to predict his future, ‘If you can look into the seeds of Time, And say, which grain will grow, and which will not, Speak then to me, who neither, beg nor fear. Your favours nor your hate’. The witches reply by saying, ‘Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. Not so happy, yet much happier. Thou shalt get Kings though thou be none: So all hail Macbeth, and Banquo.’ This means that Banquo won’t be as great as Macbeth, not so happy but happier and his children will be Kings but he won’t be. Macbeth seems more preoccupied with what the witches have said to him compared to Banquo. Banquo wants to know everything about his future.
When the witches disappear, Macbeth and Banquo talk. They are not sure whether the witches were real or not ‘Were such things here, as we do speak about? Or have we eaten the insane root, That takes the reason prisoner?’ As they are talking, Ross and Angus (noblemen of Scotland) come to see Macbeth. They talk about Macbeth’s success during the previous battle. They say how the King is pleased with the way that the battle was won by the Scots and lost by the Norwegians. ‘He bade me from him call thee Thane of Cawdor’. That is the first thing that Macbeth hears about becoming Thane of Cawdor. The second prediction has come true. ‘What, can the Devil speak true?’ Banquo is amazed by what Ross has just said. Macbeth has a chance to speak, ‘The Thane of Cawdor lives: Why do you dress me in borrowed robes?’ After they explain that the former thane had been found guilty of treason, Macbeth speaks an aside, ‘Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor! The greatest is behind’. But Banquo warns Macbeth ‘And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s In deepest consequence’. Macbeth is very happy but at the same time quite sceptical