How did Macbeth feel about killing Banquo and Macduff's family?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is interesting to note that Macbeth feels far less guilty about killing Banquo and Macduff's family than he did about killing King Duncan. This is partly because he doesn't have to do the actually killing himself but can delegate the work to others. But something about the experience of killing the King with his own hands, and then having to go through the nightmare of being present when the body is discovered and everybody in the castle is awakened, has evidently hardened him. He is a different man for the remainder of the play--a man without a conscience and without a soul. He has already committed the worst crime imaginable, so his further crimes are comparatively easy. He says of himself when thinking of having Banquo murdered: "...and  mine eternal jewel / Given to the common enemy of man." In other words, he has sold his soul to the devil in order to fulfill his ambition to become king and to make his beloved wife queen.


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