Is it fear that motivates Macbeth to kill Duncan?I am having trouble with this question, as I believe that Macbeth's ambition motivated him to kill Duncan. Could someone help me get started and...

Is it fear that motivates Macbeth to kill Duncan?

I am having trouble with this question, as I believe that Macbeth's ambition motivated him to kill Duncan. Could someone help me get started and point me in the right direction?

Expert Answers
shauger eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think you are right. It is more an issue of ambition than fear. Macbeth wants to be king and the witches have suggested that this desire could become reality. When Macbeth is named Thane of Cawdor, he believes he is on the way to becoming king - only to have the king announce that his son Malcolm will be next in line for the throne.

At that point, Macbeth decides he will kill the king - but then he waivers, recognizing the virutes of Duncan. It takes the further prodding by Lady Macbeth to actually get him to act.

Macbeth really has no reason to fear Duncan. Duncan is a notoriously poor judge of character (remember how he had put his "absolute trust" in the former Thane of Cawdor?) Duncan has rewarded Macbeth and honored him. There is no indication that Duncan has anything but the highest admiration for Macbeth.

(Remember, sometimes the answer to a question can be "no.")

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth is driven to this after he has been named the new Thane of Cawdor, and thinks about the witches prophecies. Macbeth has most likely always had the killer drive within him, and once he and Lady Macbeth discuss the killing of Duncan-his ambition to be king overtakes him.

Ambition and envy start him on this path, but after Duncan's murder, Macbeth's madness does cause him to fear any that would get in the way of the throne (for him and his future heirs).

sampu88 | Student

No. He was never afraid of King Duncan. Infact, he though of hima s a great leader, virtuous, honest, noble and wise. He also udnerstood his own responsibilities towards him- that of a dedicated kinsman and noble, and a protective and hospitable host. But it was ambition which he wanted to fulfill, his wife's expectations that he wanted to satisfy and power that he wanted to achieve, which drove him to the act of killing King Duncan.

mike007 | Student

The basic answer is no

david631 | Student

Macbeth is driven by power and to fulfill his prophecy.

Read the study guide:
Macbeth

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