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Macbeth' "...this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen". How far do you agree with Malcolm's assessment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth at the end of the play?

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'Macbeth' "...this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen". How far do you agree with Malcolm's assessment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth at the end of the play? As Malcolm's assessment of Macbeth as a "dead butcher" and of Lady Macbeth as a "fiend-like queen" is quite subjective, I cannot fully embrace or object it. However, there is evidence throughout the play that shifts the balance towards evil and occasionally towards good. I personally agree with Malcolm's evaluation, to an extent however, as no human being can mechanically be set upon doing evil only, but can be closer or further from performing it. The couple's first diabolical act consisted of planning to commit the highest of all crimes, regicide, subsequently putting the plan into practise by murdering Duncan, King of Scotland. This ignited a series of slaughters on the part of Macbeth that could lead the reader to consider him a cold-blooded butcher. Deviating from the bloody plan, Macbeth impulsively performed his second set of murders by killing Duncan's guards, not to jeopardise his apparent innocence. ...read more.


He succeeded in slaughtering his wife, babes and servants. There are several indications about Macbeth being damned for all his murders and sins, especially for killing a king, thus proving that he is a merciless butcher: "The deep damnation of his (Duncan's) taking off." His indifference and cold attitude towards Lady Macbeth's death can also be interpreted as one of the last evidences of his cruelty, before he is decapitated by the patriotic and vengeful Macduff. However, there are quotations and reactions in the play that might reveal Macbeth's tendency to pull out of the blood bath. He questioned his intention to kill his own king and guest and he also contemplated on the consequences this regicide would have on him and his "partner of greatness": "...we but teach bloody instructions, which being taught, return to plague th'inventor", as well as eternal damnation. Yet he proceeded with the murder. Throughout the play, Macbeth's conscience often intervened: he felt remorse after murdering Duncan, "Wake Duncan with thy knocking: I would thou couldst" and likewise he refused to kill Macduff at the end of the play as he had already butchered his family "But get thee back, my soul is too much charged/ With blood of thine already". ...read more.


I do support this assessment, though not entirely, as the negative aspects of her actions tend to outweigh the positive ones. Most of her evil is based on her belief in the supernatural and the consequences of it. In the process of fiendishly devising the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth invited iniquitous spirits to posses her body "Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts". Darkness characterizes evil as well, and Lady Macbeth commanded to be encircled and hid by it: "Come thick night". All her malevolent deeds had caused her to sleepwalk and relive moments of her utter devilry. The Shakespearean public could have been inclined to consider the afore-mentioned evidences as manifestations of witchcraft and of the vile supernatural, as it was typical of witches to communicate with evil spirits, embrace darkness and induce insomnia or nightmares. The doctor deemed that "more needs she the divine", reinforcing the idea that she was possessed by evil. The ultimate evidence that would assure the dramatist's audience of witchcraft and a high level of Satanism is the presence of the "Devil's Mark", which is implied when Lady Macbeth cries "Out damned spot". It was believed that witches were damned as well, and Lady Macbeth describes Hell as being "murky". ...read more.

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