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What are the 4 reasons the king doesn't feel that he has any reason to fear Macbeth...

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mar1963 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 27, 2009 at 6:02 AM via web

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What are the 4 reasons the king doesn't feel that he has any reason to fear Macbeth when he comes to stay overnight at Macbeth's castle?

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sagesource | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted May 27, 2009 at 6:23 AM (Answer #1)

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The first reason is that Macbeth has just risked his life to fight and win two battles for the King, against the "merciless Macdonwald" and against Norwegian forces (Act I, Scene 2). If Macbeth had been entertaining a plan against the king, it would have seemed more logical for him to join forces with the king's enemies rather than destroy them.

The second reason is that the King has just rewarded Macbeth, promoting him to Thane of Cawdor (Act I, Scene 2). He has also made a public promise to benefit Macbeth in unspecified ways in the future (Act I, Scene 4). Thus the king does not need to fear that Macbeth might feel his efforts and sacrifices have gone unnoticed and unrewarded.

The third reason is that Macbeth is not the direct heir to the Scottish throne, so it does not at once seem obvious that he will become king if Duncan is killed. Duncan has appointed his own son Prince of Cumberland, that is, heir-apparent to the Scottish throne, and thus Duncan's presumed successor at death (Act I, Scene 4).

The fourth reason is that Duncan has been a much-loved king, and there is no reason for anyone to wish him dead or support a rebellion against him. As Macbeth himself realizes in Act I, Scene 7, Duncan's murder will be a difficult action to justify, since he is shielded by universal public acclaim:

Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against
The deep damnation of his taking-off,
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.

The four reasons that the king doesn't feel he has anything to fear from staying overnight in Macbeth's castle are thus as follows:

  • Macbeth has just fought in the king's defense.
  • The king has just rewarded Macbeth.
  • Macbeth is not the king's immediate successor to the throne.
  • The king is widely loved and supported, making his murder seem impractical.
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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted May 27, 2009 at 9:06 PM (Answer #2)

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King Duncan is a normative of essential goodness & piety. He is, therefore, somewhat unable to foresee/pre-empt any threat to his authority. In his soliloquy in act1 sc.7, Macbeth correctly harps on this point which, he believes, should be a strong determent against a thought of causing harm to Duncan:

Besides, this Duncan

Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been

So clear in his great office, that his virtues

Will plead like angels trumpet-tongu'd against

The deep damnation of his taking-off

Duncan could not have resisted the rebel, Macdonwald, and the invading Norwegian king, but for the combined front of Macbeth and Banquo. Duncan never suspected the Thane of Cawdor to be a traitor. He admitted that nobody could ever be properly judged on the basis of appearance:

There's no art

To find the mind's construction in the face.

Thus, Duncan never suspected that he might be in danger at Macbeth's castle. He was never afraid of any fatal consequences for these reasons:

1) His essential goodness & simplicity;

2) His inability to read between the surface;

3) He rewarded Macbeth and was full of praise for him as well as his respected hostess, Lady Macbeth;

4) He could never imagine that so fair Macbeth could be so driven by his ambition and so goaded by Lady Macbeth as to flout the age-old values of hospitality & kinship.

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