Duncan is a good king chosen by God

Although King Duncan plays a relatively small role in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, he has two important functions. First, his murder helps drive the action of the play. Second, he seems to represent the ideal king, whereas Macbeth seems to represent the tyrant ruler.

Duncan is an older man with two grown sons, Malcolm and Donalbain. Some of his qualities are that he is just, gracious, and generous. For instance, he warmly praises and rewards Macbeth for winning a battle for him. Even Macbeth acknowledges that Duncan is universally loved when he is thinking about murdering his king: “Duncan / Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been / so clear in his great office, that his virtues / Will plead like angels.” (1.7.16-19).

According to the Elizabethan world picture, a king was anointed by God. This meant that God had put him on the throne and that he was only answerable to God, not to his people. This was called “the Divine Right of Kings...

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