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At the end of Macbeth, Malcolm refers to Macbeth as ‘this dead butcher’ and to Lady Macbeth as ‘fiend-like’. How far do you agree with this assessment?

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Introduction

At the end of Macbeth, Malcolm refers to Macbeth as 'this dead butcher' and to Lady Macbeth as 'fiend-like'. How far do you agree with this assessment? The definition of a butcher is one who kills needlessly or wantonly, whether it be directly or indirectly. A fiend is one bearing superhuman wickedness. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth undergo vast personality changes during the course of the play; from a liked, trustworthy and loving couple to a pair wrought with pain, problems and possibly evil. They both pay the highest price possible fro their crimes - death. But what causes the changes? Macbeth modifies from a loyal soldier to the king at the beginning of the play, to an insane tyrant at the end. Two things cause his slide into the realms of insanity: * His belief in the witches prophesies * Lady Macbeth At the commencement of the tale Macbeth is told his future by the witches. At first he laughs them off, but after his promotion to Cawdor his belief in the prophesies grows. ...read more.

Middle

Religion was very strong in the in the era of king James - the play for whom this play was written. Lady Macbeth in the meanwhile is not as strong as she seems. 'Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done't.' Although wicked in the way she manipulates her husband, she feels she has to as she has not the courage to perform the deed herself. She then bottles up her emotions to console her husband, whom she knows is slipping from sanity. Macbeth's conscience is 'full of scorpions', his week mentality causes the recent events to get to him, and from the killing of Duncan onwards he begins to loose all sense of what is right, and becomes a completely different person - one who is wrapped in the prophesies, one who is butcherous. We see his butcher like qualities in the killing of Macduff's family, as well as the killing of banquo. 'Give to th'edge of the sword his wife, his babes and all unfortunate souls.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Butcher like? Perhaps not. However Malcolm's description of the couple is going to be slightly harsh anyway. It is bias, after all Macbeth killed his father and in the process gained the title king of Scotland, a prestige that had been promised Malcolm in act 4 scene 1. Malcolm is obviously bitter because of this, and throughout the play we do not hear one good word about Macbeth from Malcolm, even when he was a noble. To conclude, I feel Macbeth is not a butcher, but does show butcher like qualities in latter parts of the play, when he was insane. His insanity was due to his future being forced upon him by both his wife and the witches. Lady Macbeth however is a fiend. She forces her husband to commit murder against his will because of her own copious ambition and cowardice, and her ultimate lack of strength caused both to fall into a bewildered state, and left Macbeth with no purpose of direction. Lady Macbeth's naivety caused her wickedness; she thought 'a little water would clear her of the deed.' Although Malcolm's description is hard on Macbeth, is does not portray the true extent of Lady Macbeth's evil. ...read more.

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