HELP!!! just asking this because its very shocking. In Act 2,after macbeth killed the king, lennox says its the guards.after confirming it is the guard that killed the king, macbeth says he...

HELP!!! just asking this because its very shocking. In Act 2,after macbeth killed the king, lennox says its the guards.

after confirming it is the guard that killed the king, macbeth says he killed them. but remember that lennox said the guards were covered with blood and their daggers unwiped.

if macbeth says he killed them, when would he have killed them?after the kings murder? or what? why wasnt macbeth suspected immediately/ why did it take a long time before people noticed? afterall, macbeth said he killed the guards.he couldnt have killed the guards when Macduff announced the kings death(act2 scene 3)because we were told that lennox went with him.

someone should have asked when he then killed the king because if he killed the king at night, why didnt he sound the alarm? why did he act like he didnt know anything?


i just finished reading the scene and i couldnt wait to ask! :D!!!

Expert Answers
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There would be nothing wrong with Lennox seeing Macbeth killing Duncan's two guards. Macbeth wants to silence them, but he pretends he is carried away by righteous anger and is executing them on the spot for killing the King. Macbeth is a high-ranking thane and can do such a thing without being in any legal jeopardy. The two grooms are nobodies. The only reason Macduff questions Macbeth's action is that it would have been much better to keep these two unfortunate men alive in order to question them about the assassination of the man they were supposed to be guarding. It seems obvious that if they were actually guilty of murdering King Duncan, which they of course deny, then somebody must have bribed them to do it. Naturally everybody--except Macbeth--would want to know who was the brains behind the plot.

Lennox is presented as a young, naive lad. He was an eye-witness to Macbeth's execution of the two terrified guards, but Lennox assumes that they were guilty and that Macbeth acted justifiably in the heat of anger. When Malcolm asks who killed his father, Lennox explains his opinion:

Those of his chamber, as it seem'd, had done't:
Their hands and faces were all badged with blood;
So were their daggers, which unwiped we found
Upon their pillows:
They stared, and were distracted; no man's life
Was to be trusted with them.          (2.3)

When Malcolm and Donalbain decide to flee for their lives, it is easy for Macbeth to blame them for hiring the two grooms to kill their father. But in Act 3, Scene 6, some time has passed, and Lennox has become much older and wiser. He puts a much different spin on what happened when he and Macbeth entered the dead king's chamber.

Men must not walk too late.
Who cannot want the thought, how monstrous
It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain
To kill their gracious father? Damned fact!
How it did grieve Macbeth! Did he not straight,
In pious rage, the two delinquents tear,
That were the slaves of drink and thralls of sleep?
Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely too,
For ’twould have anger'd any heart alive
To hear the men deny't.

Lennox is no longer gullible. He has learned to see through appearances and to talk in innuendo. He realizes the truth. Macbeth killed Duncan and then killed the two guards to keep them from giving any evidence. From what Macbeth says to his wife after returning from killing the King, it is possible that one of the guards might actually have seen Macbeth in the King's chamber.

There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried,
That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:
But they did say their prayers and address'd them
Again to sleep.                     (2.2)

In any case, Macbeth thought it prudent to kill them both. They were dead men anyway from the time Macbeth and his wife hatched the plot to murder Duncan. The grooms were to be smeared with blood and found that way when Duncan's body was discovered. Naturally it would be assumed that they were paid by someone, but they would deny their guilt and would not be able to name anyone who might have bribed them. Macbeth has an opportunity to kill them immediately and seizes it.

jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act 2, Scene 3, Macduff, accompanied by Lennox, arrives early in the morning to wake the king. Macbeth, who pretends that he has just woken up, shows Macduff the way to Duncan's chamber. Macduff runs out of the chamber in a frenzy of grief and proclaims that Duncan has been murdered. In mock shock and disbelief, Macbeth, along with Lennox, goes into the chamber to see for himself. When they come out, Macbeth says that, yes indeed the great, old king is dead. Then he says that he saw the guards lying there covered with blood, was sure they had done, and right then and there, in the presence of Lennox, he killed them in a fit of revenge. Here's Macbeth explanation:


O, yet I do repent me of my fury,

That I did kill them.


Wherefore did you so?


Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,

Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:

The expedition of my violent love

Outrun the pauser reason. Here lay Duncan,

His silver skin laced with his golden blood,

And his gash'd stabs look'd like a breach in nature

For ruin's wasteful entrance: there, the murderers,

Steep'd in the colors of their trade, their daggers

Unmannerly breech'd with gore. Who could refrain,

That had a heart to love, and in that heart

Courage to make's love known?

Such an exlanation may have seemed reasonable to the treacherous couple, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, but no one else will later give it any credence.

onemore4gsus | Student

I'm still confused.  Why didn't Lennox either refute or defend Macbeth's story about killing the guards?  It seems like everyone listening to Macbeth's confession is hearing it for the first time, including Lennox!  But Lennox would have been an eye witness to Macbeth's murdering the guards, since they entered Duncan's chamber together following Macduff's cry that the king was dead.

I'm supposed to be teaching this to high schoolers, but things in this scene just don't add up.  Hopefully someone can offer more insight.

azrulafeze | Student

Macbeth killed the guards before Macbeth, Lennox, Macduff and others met together after Macduff anounced Duncan's death. Macbeth could not help to hold his anger anymore and that's why he killed the guards.