How does Shakespeare use language to present the death of King Duncan in Act Two Scene One of Macbeth?

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

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The language used to present the death of King Duncan is equal to the level of respect that he holds and deserves as a beloved king.

When MacDuff first discovers the body he responds with heartfelt pain and anquish, as one would expect.  However, he uses an elevated metaphor to present the murder:

Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence
The life o' the building!

Here he compares Duncan's body to the Lord's temple wherein its treasures have been stolen.  This fits with the concept of divine right of kings which holds that God himself appoints the lineage of kings.

In keeping with the belief of the Great Chain of Being, the evening of his death is marked by unusual natural occurrences such as the sun not rising, horrible storms, lamentings in the air, and unnatural behavior of animals.  All of the natural events have entered a state of chaos due to the defying of God's choices of Duncan as a king through murder.

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