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Decent Essays
The dictionary says that duty is the moral or legal obligation a person has to people in his life. In order to fulfill one’s duty it is often necessary to put aside or delay one’s personal goals or desires. This creates a kind of tension within a person. In this essay I will begin by discussing some of the areas in my life where I experience this tension and then I will look at the character of Macbeth in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. He starts out as a dutiful subject of King Duncan but after his encounter with the witches, there is a shift from pursuing his duty to pursuing his desire for power.

At the present time my duty is to my family, my education and my work. I have responsibilities at home that include
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He’s here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed: then, as his host,
Who should against this murder shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself besides this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office.” (Act 1, Scene 7, Lines7-18)

When Macbeth hesitates to “do the foul deed”, Lady Macbeth calls him a coward and appeals to his sense of duty to keep his word and to be a man.

“What beast was’t then that made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man.’ Act 1, Scene 7, Lines 49-51) So Macbeth gives in to his ambition to be king and his duty to please his wife and he even kills the guards who have failed to do their duty to protect the King by getting drunk and falling asleep.

So in the end we see that Macbeth’s ambition to be king and his desire to please his wife grows stronger and his sense of duty to his state decreases to the point that he kills King Duncan and his servants and wages war against Prince Malcolm. If the witches had not planted the seed of ambition in Macbeth’s mind, this tragedy would probably have never happened.

William Shakespeare.
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