Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is Macbeth's reaction to Duncan's murder? How does Macbeth feel after Duncan's death?  

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Macbeth's strongest reaction to Duncan's murder does not come over him until Macduff discovers the King's dead body and raises a general alarm. Macbeth didn't want to be present when this happened, but the knocking at the gate forced him to stop playing possum and come down to see why nobody was opening the gate. Macbeth expresses his feelings in the following lines in Act 2, Scene 3:

Had I but died an hour before this chance,
I had lived a blessed time; for from this instant
There's nothing serious in mortality.
All is but toys. Renown and grace is dead.
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
Is left this vault to brag of.

He wishes he were dead. He is overcome with guilt and remorse. He realizes that he has made a terrible mistake and that he is going to have to live with his guilt and shame for the rest of his life. The metaphor about the wine of life suggests that all the wine has been drained from the barrel and only the bitter residue is left at the bottom. He can't see how anything he...

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