Comparison Of Banquo's Murder In Macbeth

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Macbeth- Whose Murder is Worse- Duncan’s or Banquo’s? Samantha Wong 1-2

Keary Taylor, author of Depth’s Lake once wrote: “The first time you kill someone is something that changes you”. In Macbeth, Shakespeare juxtaposes Macbeth’s immense guilt after murdering Duncan with his calm, business-like attitude towards murdering Banquo to depict his rapid change in character after he becoming a murderer. Shakespeare immerses the reader into Macbeth’s thoughts and actions to reveal how Duncan’s murder not only affects the wellbeing of his country, but also prompts him to continue to commit murder, and ultimately causes the downfall of both himself and Lady Macbeth.

Firstly, Duncan’s murder is worse than Banquo’s because it affects the wellbeing
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Macbeth knows that killing Duncan will have an effect on his country because Duncan is a better, and more virtuous king than Macbeth could ever be after killing him. In contrast, Banquo’s murder will not affect the country, because he is not royalty and his death will only affect those close to him. In addition, by killing Duncan who is a king, the balance of nature is thrown by such an awful deed. Shakespeare illustrates this through the conversation between Ross and the Old Man who comments, “‘Tis unnatural,/ Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last,/ A falcon, towering in her pride of place,/Was by a mousing owl hawk’d and kill’d,” which demonstrates that nature has responded to Duncan’s murder and the entire country has noticed (II.iv.10-13). However, in the days following Banquo’s murder, no natural disruption is remarked throughout the country. Finally, Macbeth causes an absolute loss of peace within Scotland by causing the war with England. If Macbeth had not killed Duncan, he would not have become king and therefore would not cause Macduff and Malcolm to go to war with him because he causes his country to “Sink beneath the yoke;/ Weep, bleed, and each new day a gash/ Is added …show more content…
Before Duncan’s murder, Macbeth has no desire to kill anyone, let alone Banquo, since he is still a noble and valiant man. Killing Duncan is what causes him to sell his soul, and after a while, has become “supp’d full with horrors;/ Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,/ Cannot once start me.” which implies that he has done such horrid things that he cannot feel anymore (V.v.13-15). By the time Banquo’s murder happens, he has already sold his soul to the devil and can no longer “pronounce ‘Amen’,” since he has already given up all the humanity that he has left and as a result, killing Banquo does not affect him. Furthermore, Duncan’s murder is undoubtedly worse because it in fact causes Macbeth to murder Banquo. Murdering Duncan causes Macbeth to be paranoid because he has a great deal to lose. He believes that “Our fears in Banquo/ Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature/ Reigns that which would be fear’d,” and he knows that Banquo suspects him of murder, so he has to kill Banquo to retain his image of innocence towards Duncan’s death (III.i.50-51). Whereas, as a direct result of Banquo’s murder he feels he doesn’t need to protect himself because, as he tells Banquo’s ghost “Thou canst not say I did it,” therefore he doesn’t think anyone will suspect him of Banquo’s death, similarly to how Banquo had suspected him of Duncan’s

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