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Critics have speculated about the identity of the third murderer,with some thinking...

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chuck1980s | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 24, 2009 at 4:12 PM via web

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Critics have speculated about the identity of the third murderer,with some thinking that it may be Macbeth himself. How do you explain this situation?

In Act Three, Scene 1, Macbeth meets with two murderers, but three murderers take part in the actual murder in scene three.

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emeraldjde | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 26, 2009 at 12:06 PM (Answer #2)

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I find it difficult, personally, to accept Macbeth as the third murderer.  He was at home the whole time entertaining, and then he was surprised to learn that Fleance had not been killed along with Banquo.  Had he been the third murderer, he should not have been surprised.  It's not like he was putting on airs for someone by pretending to be surprised.  Frankly, I think someone's cousin or brother wanted a part in the play and Shakespeare wrote him a last-minute cameo.

However, if you wanted to (or are being pushed to) support the idea that Macbeth is the third murderer, you could potentially argue that Macbeth wasn't going to leave the work to chance, but, alas, I find myself going back to the idea of, "Well, then, why hire murderers at all?  He didn't with Duncan."

The eNotes analysis provided for this act and scene mention this third murderer, too:

"This scene also introduces a third murderer. He says he was sent by Macbeth, yet there is no other mention of him in the play. There is much speculation as to the identity of the third murderer. When Macbeth is performed on stage, the third murderer is sometimes hooded so that his features cannot be seen." (Link 1)

The Third Murderer claims to have been sent by Macbeth, which would further lead one to believe that he was not Macbeth, but then, if not, why would Macbeth have sent him as an afterthought?  Or, if he wasn't really sent by Macbeth, then how would he have known to say that he was?

It's a good question.  As I said, I do not think that the Third Murderer is Macbeth, but with a little digging, you might be able to pull it off or find a way to completely disprove it, assuming you have a choice.  Ask yourself what you think about it, though, and go from there.

More links posted for help.

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