Who was the most responsible for the death of King Duncan?

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In act 1, scene 7, Lady Macbeth certainly urges her husband to commit murder, doesn't she?

Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would."

Worth noting, however, is that Lady Macbeth, for all her urging and pressing, does not want to be the one to murder Duncan herself. She wants the deed finished, and she wants Macbeth to do it for her. So it might be easy to lay blame on her for seemingly pressing Macbeth to commit a murder against his wishes.

However, this assertion neglects one very key fact. Macbeth always has a choice in his actions. To blame the entire murder on Lady Macbeth is to claim that Macbeth is powerless against her. And this isn't true. He could have made different choices. In the end, he wants the prophecies of the witches to come true; perhaps Lady Macbeth is simply a voice for the desires that burn deep within her husband.

Duncan dies because Macbeth kills him. Macbeth longs for greatness and, in the end, is willing to do whatever is necessary to make this dream of his a reality. He is ultimately to blame for Duncan's death.

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This is an interesting question—and one that requires much thought. Does murder start in the hand, when the act is committed, or does it start in the mind, when the act is first thought of as a necessity? This question needs to be answered before the question of who is most responsible for Duncan's death in Macbeth can be answered.

In the play, we see, of course, that Duncan dies at Macbeth's hand. Macbeth is physically responsible for Duncan's death. But if it hadn't been for the leading of his wife, Lady Macbeth, one can argue that Macbeth never would have killed Duncan. She played a major role in convincing her husband that the deed had to be done. Indeed, the guilt she feels is evident in her compulsive need to "wash" the blood off her hands while she is sleepwalking after the murder has been committed.

However, it is not insignificant that Shakespeare starts this play off with the three witches and their meeting with Macbeth, in which they tell him he will soon be Thane of Cawdor and, eventually, king. They are the ones who first plant the idea in his mind—Duncan must die so he can take over the vacated throne.

Murder usually starts in the mind. Therefore, it can be said that the witches hold the most responsibility for the death of King Duncan.

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