In Act 1 scene 7 Macbeth says, “We shall proceed no further in this business” but was he really a reluctant murderer?
In Macbeth’s soliloquy we discover that he seems to be a reluctant murderer as he begins by saying, “If it were done, when ’tis done,” this suggests uncertainty and gives the reader a sense of his reluctance to murder Duncan. During Macbeth’s soliloquy we discover his inner thoughts and feelings, as everything in the soliloquy is true and Lady Macbeth is not pressurising him.
The soliloquy is mainly divided up into three sections, line 1-7 he comments on himself, line 7-25 his reasons for not murdering Duncan and finally line 25-28 reasons for committing the murder. It is obvious from the above statistics, that there are more reasons for not committing the murder, than for committing it, this again shows his reluctance in murdering Duncan. Although he has more reasons for not committing the murder the repetition of the word “done” in lines 1+2 would suggest he is thinking strongly about doing it.
Further on in the text (Lines 4-8) he says, “If th’ assassination could trammel up the consequence, and catch with his surcease, success; that but this blow might be the be-all and the end-all _ here, but here.” From this we know that if the murder could be completed quickly with just one blow and if there were no consequences in the afterlife and if this is all that is needed to end everything then he would act.
Macbeth says, he would not fear the after life, “We’d jump the life to come” this tells us that he is only concerned with consequences on earth but he is not afraid of eternal punishment in “the sea of eternity.” Macbeth is afraid of earthly punishment so he unsure whether or not to kill the king, and he thinks it is maybe an unrealistic idea.
Line 8 also mentions the judgement on earth and the consequences, and in the following lines (Line 9+10) Macbeth says, “that we but teach bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor.” This tells us he is afraid of violence creating violence, and lessons in murder being taught to others. Macbeth thinks the murder of Duncan may lead to another murder possibly even his own, because a violent example and “bloody instructions” will be taught to others.
He goes on to say, “this even-handed justice, commends the ingredients of our poison’d chalice to our own lips.” This tells us that Macbeth imagines the murder as like a communion cup, that he poisons and then comes back again to poison him.
After the soliloquy Macbeth says, “we will proceed no further in this business.” He tells his wife that he doesn’t want to murder Duncan because, “He hath honour’d me of late.” This was not the reason that he gave himself in the soliloquy, so the reader is given the impression that Lady Macbeth may not accept his reasons for not committing the murder.
Macbeth gives Lady Macbeth a practical reason, not a moral one and therefore it is suggested to the audience that Lady Macbeth would not be impressed by a moral argument. Her response to him is made up of sarcastic, taunting, and mocking questions she asks him, was it a drunken boast?
It is my own option that Macbeth did not want to murder Duncan, but felt pressurised into it by his wife, because she says he will lose her love, if he doesn’t do it. So he commits the murder just to please his wife.