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Macbeth and the Consequences of Murder

5 Pages 1169 Words June 2017

Murder can alter one’s attitude towards death by changing the root of their fear, guilt and envy. In the play, ‘Macbeth’ by Shakespeare, Macbeth murders Duncan, a respected King, in order to claim the crown. During Act 1, Scene 7, Macbeth struggles to decide whether to murder the King or not. Progressively, Act 3, Scene 2 depicts the results of Duncan’s murder, where Macbeth expresses his regret for killing Duncan. Shakespeare uses literary features to convey the ideas of fear, guilt, envy and death.
Throughout both passages, Macbeth is fearful of Duncan’s death. In the first passage, Macbeth demonstrates his fear of the possible effects of Duncan’s death by explaining that the assassination could “trammel up the consequence and catch, with his surcease, success”(1.7.3-4). The syntax used in this phrase reveals his panicked state of mind as the commas stop the phrase constantly and the short pause introduces a new trail of thought. As Macbeth jumps to multiple possible effects of Duncan’s death in a phrase as short as 10 words, this indicates that Macbeth’s mind is reacting to his fear. After the murder in the second passage, Macbeth expresses how he lives his life in fear because of the idea that haunts him through the use of ambiguity in the phrase “O, full of scorpions is my mind”(3.2.38). As a mind is constantly full of thoughts, the scorpions symbolise Macbeth’s thoughts. Shakespeare’s effective use of diction while using the word ‘scorpion’ explains what these thoughts are like and what effects they have on Macbeth’s state of mind. ‘Scorpion’ in denotation is “a small animal with a poisonous sting at the end of its tail”1. If Macbeth’s thoughts are poisonous, this suggests that the thoughts are very negative as poison has the capability to kill someone. Therefore, this demonstrates that the dreadful thoughts are so strong that they make him feel as if he is dead, and hence live a life i...

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