Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What are the reasons Macbeth would kill King Duncan, and what are some reasons that he would not?

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Yes, Macbeth wants the glory of being King of Scotland. Yes, the witches have dangled this promise in front of him, and he's seen two of their other promises come to fruition.

But one compelling reason that Macbeth feels that he must move forward with killing King Duncan is that his own wife has insulted his manhood. This isn't well-received in our own modern society, and it certainly wasn't well-received by men who fought battles of valor to the death in hand-to-hand combat. She provokes him in his hesitation, noting:

When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. (1.8.54–56)

Macbeth feels that he has to defend his manly sense of honor and strength, not cringing in what his wife labels as cowardice. Lady Macbeth's stab at her husband's pride is deep and achieves its intended purpose.

Yet Macbeth does, in fact, hesitate. He doesn't want to kill Duncan because he knows that by doing so, he jeopardizes his afterlife. He also aptly...

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davidch | Student

Shakespeare had a very fertile mind and his fiction is renowned.

If I said, 'Macbeth never killed anyone' you are invited to prove me wrong. And since he lived a few hundred years before Elizabeth, I am at a loss to see that connection.