Macbeth's feelings about kingship

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  • How does Shakespeare present Macbeth's feelings about kingship?
    • Malcolm described Duncan as an example of an ideal king; 'gracious' and inspires loyalty in his subjects, who see him as a 'most sainted king'.
      • In contrast, Macbeth is described as a 'tyrant' because he rules selfishly, using violence. he is rarely referred to as king, showing that other characters dont see him or accept him as the true king
    • Macbeth knows that the king is supposed to be appointed by God, so he knows that murdering Duncan is the wrong thing to do and the wrong way to become king. Macbeth knows that he is disobeying God.
      • Macbeth is described as 'devilish'. He commits murder and talks to evil witches; he is not the chosen king.
    • Macbeth is a cautious king as he is scared of being murdered, just like he did to Duncan; this is very hypocritical of Macbeth.
      • Macbeth's behaviour reflects King James I's behaviour, as he too was a very cautious ruler.
    • When Macbeth hears that he is to become king, he is shocked as he never expected it. He is so shocked that he does not believe the witches at first.
    • Throughout the entirety of Act One, Macbeth is equivocating on the idea of murdering Duncan to become king because he wants to be king, but (as Lady Macbeth points out) he is not willing to put in the work needed.
    • Macbeth gives up on trying to talk Lady Macbeth out of murder, and so turns to Banquo for help; he is careful about it as he does not want Banquo to know that he is having murderous thoughts.


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