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In the tragedy of 'Macbeth', explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as 'cruel ministers', a 'butcher' and a 'fiend like queen'

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In the tragedy of 'Macbeth', explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as 'cruel ministers', a 'butcher' and a 'fiend like queen' The Shakespearian play 'Macbeth' is one the four greatest tragedies, encompassing witchcraft, crime and punishment, evil temptations, guilt, remorse and above all, greed for power. 'Macbeth' was probably written in 1606 when Shakespeare was in his early 40s. His other three great tragedies had already been written, and his reputation was established. King James ruled England, having assumed the throne when Queen Elizabeth died in 1603. Aspects of 'Macbeth' seem to be calculated to flatter King James. James was known to be a fan of witchcraft and was also a descendant of the historical Banquo. The vision of the line of kings that Macbeth sees in Act IV implies that the Stuart dynasty (James' line) will continue to rule indefinitely. At the time when Shakespeare wrote 'Macbeth', England had very different opinions as to modern times. The role of women in society was significantly low and they were much less powerful than men, who held all public and political votes. There were distinct gender roles and a women's sphere of legitimate power was located in the home. Women were not allowed to act on stage and so the presence of a 'women' on stage assuming control outside the domestic sphere was striking. During Shakespeare's time women were also thought to assume power illegitimately through evil forces, which is why Lady Macbeth is presented as an evil and cruel woman yet at some points, she is portrayed as pitiful and pathetic. ...read more.


The murder of Duncan is the initial sign of greed for power in Macbeth and him as a 'Butcher'. He kills Duncan in order to become king but fails to understand that he will have to do more than just one murder in order to remain king. In act two, scene 1; Macbeth is with Banquo speaking about the witches' prophecy. Macbeth downplays the importance of their meeting with the witches', but Banquo warns him about the evil that could come of the prophecy. When Banquo leaves, Macbeth has a hallucination in which he sees a bloody dagger floating before him. He is horrified about what he will do, but he proceeds anyway. This shows that Macbeth feels guilty about the murder and his inner feelings are shown through this phantasm. However, despite his guilt of killing Duncan, Macbeth carries out the murder of Banquo after remembering that the witches foretold that Banquo�s children would one day rule Scotland. Macbeth plans on killing Banquo and Fleance to prevent this part of the witches' prophecy coming true, but Fleance escapes. But to be safely thus: our fears in Banquo Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature Reigns that which would be feared. (Act III Scene I) After Banquo�s murder at their first banquet as king and queen, Macbeth sees his ghost, which only he can see. This is another sign that Macbeth is guilty over the murders that he is responsible for. In act four, scene one; Macbeth is informed about Macduff joining the army of Malcolm, which is why he orders his murderers to murder Macduff's family for his disloyalty. ...read more.


respond individually and jointly to the psychological burden of their sins. Macbeth is a 'Butcher' when he murders Duncan, the present king on the commands of his wife. Macbeth feels guilty but feels that Lady Macbeth will be frustrated if he did not carry out the murder. However, he does the next murder on his own without the control of Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is presented as 'Queen' in one scene, which is her first appearance, the fifth scene in act one. But she is certainly 'Fiend like' when she is the source of power over Macbeth in the Murder of Duncan. In her sleepwalking scene she utters her remorse and talks about her blood stained hands. She is very weak in this scene and has no power over her words and actions. Banquo witnessed the encounter with the witches and because they said that one day his children would rule Scotland, Macbeth felt threatened and ordered murderers to 'butcher' Banquo and Fleance. On hearing about Macduff's flight to England, another threat to his position according to the witches' was that no man of woman born could harm him. This prophecy made Macbeth keen on fighting with Macduff. However, Macduff proved that he could still murder and overpower him. We can see that Macbeth is responsible for many crimes and how power hungry he was. He has taken so many lives just to maintain his leadership. In the course of the play, Macbeth repeatedly misunderstood the guilt that he was suffering as being simply a matter of apprehension. His characteristic way of dealing with his guilt was to face it directly by committing more misdeeds and this of course, only led to more insanity. ?? ?? ?? ?? Shaheena Baig 10:4 1 ...read more.

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