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In your opinion, who is responsible for the murder of King Duncan?justify in your opinion

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fazza | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 31, 2010 at 11:04 AM via web

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In your opinion, who is responsible for the murder of King Duncan?

justify in your opinion

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 31, 2010 at 11:14 AM (Answer #1)

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In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Macbeth is directly responsible for killing King Duncan.  He's the one who stabs him. 

The witches predict only that he will be king.  He's the one that makes the leap, figuratively, to assassination.  And Lady Macbeth talks him in to it, but she cannot even do the killing herself when she gets the chance, for the sentimental reason that the sleeping Duncan reminds her of her father. 

The witches and Lady Macbeth take no action.  They just talk.  Macbeth takes action.  He kills Duncan and he is responsible for it. 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 31, 2010 at 8:21 PM (Answer #2)

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I think that the question is attempting to distill blame for the death of Duncan.  I think that Lady Macbeth does deserve a good portion of blame for helping to move her husband to a point of moral fragmentation, enabling him to do such a thing.  It is hard to fully absolve Macbeth of his rightful role in the death of Duncan and the murders that follow.  Without a doubt, he has to bear responsibility for his actions as they are his and his alone.  Yet, Lady Macbeth has to factor into a complete assessment of blame, as she does much to inspire and initiate his actions.  A case can be made that if she does not give him the continual and prodding inspiration to action, he might not pursue the ends of murder as he does.

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted April 1, 2010 at 2:06 AM (Answer #3)

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Interesting question: "Who is responsible for the murder of King Duncan?" Of course Macbeth wields the murder weapon and does the deed, so he is ultimately responsible for the crime. There is no question, however, that Lady Macbeth, in at least a legal sense, is also responsible. This may be of interest to you:

At law, an accomplice is a person who actively participates in the commission of a crime, even though they take no part in the actual criminal offense. For example, in a bank robbery, the person who points the gun at the teller and asks for the money is guilty of armed robbery. However, anyone else directly involved in the commission of the crime, such as the lookout or the getaway car driver, is an accomplice, even though in the absence of an underlying offense keeping a lookout or driving a car would not be an offense.

An accomplice differs from an accessory in that an accomplice is present at the actual crime, and could be prosecuted even if the main criminal (the principal) is not charged or convicted. An accessory is generally not present at the actual crime, and may be subject to lesser penalties than an accomplice or principal.

If a court of law were involved in the case of the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth would be found guilty of murder. Whether Lady Macbeth is found to be an accomplish or an accessory depends on how good her lawyer is :-)

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 31, 2010 at 11:08 AM (Answer #4)

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I will take the simple answer.  I am going to say that Macbeth himself is the one who is responsible for killing the king.  After all, he is the one who actually stabs Duncan.

Macbeth is the one who decides that the witches' prophecy means that he ought to try to become king.  He is the one who decides that he should try to kill Duncan to get his throne.

I realize that Lady Macbeth eggs him on, but I still think that Macbeth is the one who is most to blame.

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