Macbeth: What is Macbeth saying about Duncan when he says:
Better be with the dead,
Whom we to gain our peace have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In Restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave.
After life's fitful fever he sleeps well.
Treason has don his worst. Nor steel nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing
Can touch him further. (III.ii.21-28)
Macbeth is constantly bothered by guilt of having killed Duncan. Macbeth is also concerned to ensure that all suspicion points to Duncan's sons. Lastly, Macbeth is worried that Banquo's sons will become kings. Rather than allow this possibility to happen, Macbeth takes measures to order the murders of Banquo and Fleance. With all of this anxiety and guilt, Macbeth considers that Duncan, being dead, is in a much more peaceful state than Macbeth who is in a state of anxiety and guilt. At the beginning of this passage, Macbeth even supposes that he, himself, would be better off dead than to live in "the affliction of these terrible dreams." Shortly before Macbeth enters the scene, Lady Macbeth expresses a similar notion:
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy. (III.ii.8-9)