In the 1600’s, murder as pun…

November 20, 2018 General Studies

In the 1600’s, murder as punishment wasn’t frowned upon. In fact, it was almost celebrated as people gathered around to watch a hanging or beheading. Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, was written in an extremely violent era. Shakespeare shows this in the play Macbeth with numerous murders throughout the play. Ambition is also a key theme in Macbeth, as it drives people’s motives to do what they desire. Macbeth’s ambition for violence starts when he kills Macdonwald in battle because he conspired with the King of Norway to kill the King of Scotland. After defeating Macdonwald, Macbeth is praised for his murder and is given a new title, the Thane of Cawdor. This victory could also be the beginning of Macbeth’s downfall, as the praising makes it seem murdering people is good and that you are always rewarded for it. Because of all the praise, his ambition makes him want more, so he murders the king, Duncan, the person that he was praised for defending, along with Duncan’s two guards. After Macbeth kills Duncan, he doesn’t feel at ease. He worries he will be suspected for the murder of the king. He feels that Banquo knows too much, as Banquo, the Thane of Lochaber, was alongside Macbeth when the witches prophesised that Macbeth will become king. They also made the prophesy that Banquo’s son, Fleance, will be king. Macbeth states, ‘To be thus is nothing/But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo’. This means that to be king is nothing if he is not safe from enemies as king, and that he is afraid of Banquo. Macbeth hires murderers to assassinate Banquo and his son Fleance. These actions show that he is transforming into an evil and greedy person with a lust for power. The witches play a vital role in Macbeth’s actions, as they are the ones who prophesise that Macbeth will be the heir of the crown. This means that Duncan must die first. He is also worried about Fleance because the witches say that he will become king as well. Macbeth kills Duncan, the King he fought for, earned his praise from, and who named him Thane of Cawdor. He orders for a boy to be killed along with his father, who is Macbeths friend, all because he feels that they are a threat to his power. After the murder of Duncan and Banquo, Lady Macbeth starts sleepwalking and sleep talking. She says while asleep, “Yet here’s a spot/Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” While saying this Lady Macbeth is supposedly trying to wash her hands while in her sleep. This is because earlier she believed that she could just wash her hands clear of Duncan’s blood, but in fact she now can’t psychologically escape the blood. This shows the extent of the guilt that the murder of Duncan and Banquo has had on her. She repeats this action of washing her hands obsessively, but the psychological spot refuses to disappear, unlike she first thought it would.


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