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Macbeth - At the End of the Play Malcolm Describes Macbeth As a ‘Dead Butcher’ and Lady Macbeth As a ‘Fiend-Like Queen’. How Justified Is That Description and Is That All There Is To Her?

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Introduction

AT THE END OF THE PLAY MALCOLM DESCRIBES MACBETH AS A 'DEAD BUTCHER' AND LADY MACBETH AS A 'FIEND-LIKE QUEEN'. HOW JUSTIFIED IS THAT DESCRIPTION AND IS THAT ALL THERE IS TO HER? The quote 'a dead butcher and his fiend-like queen' comes from the end of the play, after Macduff brings in the severed head of Macbeth. The definition of the word 'fiend' is "The Devil; evil spirit; person of superhuman wickedness (esp. cruelty or malignity)". According to the Oxford dictionary the word butcher has two meanings. It can mean "one who slaughters animals for food, dealer in meat or a person who causes or delights in bloodshed". Although Macbeth doesn't slaughter animals for food, he still gains from murdering somebody, like a butcher. He also gains from killing, by killing Duncan and Banquo he receives and keeps his position of king. I do not believe that Macbeth however is delighted by bloodshed although he does cause it. The one of the first descriptions we hear of Macbeth is a brave soldier, who like a butcher 'unseamed him from the nave to the chops'. ...read more.

Middle

So secure that he holds back on killing Macduff because he thinks all people are born of women and he still feels upset for killing the rest of the Macduffs: 'My soul is too much charged with blood of thine already'. Later on we find out that Macduff was 'from his mothers womb, untimely ripped' and Macbeth realises the three witches prophecy is correct, and he is going to be killed by Macduff. After this we begin to see the soldier whom we saw in the opening lines, valiant, and not being scared of death. However Macbeth isn't the same person we saw in the opening lines of the book. When his wife dies he simple answers 'she would have died sometime', showing that at the end he is a soldier, but a soldier without feelings. Lady Macbeth is partly to do with this change within Macbeth and she is often thought of evil and maybe as a fiend. If she weren't present in the play, Macbeth probably wouldn't have killed Duncan. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall I do not find the comment very satisfactory; Macbeth isn't anymore a butcher at the beginning of the play than at the end. It is very likely that by labelling Macbeth and his wife as a butcher and fiend, he is trying to solidify his position as king. Also the comment is purely based on what Malcolm knows, i.e. Macbeth killing Banquo, the King not the things Macbeth and his wife said or did. Because we are in the audience, we can see that maybe Macbeth and Lady Macbeth aren't as evil as first seems. They used to be a loving couple, but were both torn apart by ambition. The sleepwalking Lady Macbeth and the suicide show that she does have feelings, and the Macbeth death proves he is still the die-hard soldier we saw in the first act. Saying that however, how can someone like Macbeth fight people by chopping off various parts, then come home and expect to be a perfect gentleman? If I had to blame anyone it would be the witches. It was them who started the growth of the idea and therefore the downfall of the Macbeth's was down to them. ...read more.

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