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"This dead butcher and his fiend-like queen"Is this a fair assessment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?

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Alex Macdonald "This dead butcher and his fiend-like queen" Is this a fair assessment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth? Macbeth is a play of murder and witchcraft. Many actors when performing it on stage are too superstitious to use the real name, and call it " The Scottish play" instead believing that this way they will avoid bad luck being brought on themselves. The quotation from Malcolm's speech (V.ix.36) seems to portray Macbeth as a mindless killer, and that it is his wife who is the scheming villain, who is fiend-like, thus emphasising her link with the dark forces in the play. I think that this is too simple a way to sum up two complicated characters. Therefore I shall look at both Macbeth's and Lady Macbeth's characters as they advance through the play and the other characters that influence them before I draw any conclusions. This play was written and produced by Shakespeare during the reign of James I. We have to bear this in mind. Shakespeare was trying to impress the king who was a descendant of Scottish royalty. In the play Banquo represents King James' supposed ancestor. One of Shakespeare's aims in writing the play was to show his support for the king and that he was against the various uprisings which took place in James' reign. At the start of the play Macbeth is a very strong and courageous nobleman of the king. He is a ruthless warrior and loyal to his country. These qualities are shown right at the beginning of the play when in battle he bravely but violently killed the captain of the other army: "he unseamed him from the nave to th'chaps."(I.ii.22). He therefore receives the title of Thane of Cawdor. But this had been foretold by the witches who also predicted that he would be king. Macbeth does not think that he should do anything about making the prophecy come true: "If Chance will have me king, why Chance may crown me/ Without my stir." ...read more.


He is undoubtedly a brave and fearless man, vicious and ruthless in battle also with an overwhelming ambition. But at crucial points he couldn't make up his mind and feared the consequences of murdering the king. In contrast at all points up to and immediately following the murder Lady Macbeth was consistent and determined, she plans the murder and the cover-up. Also " fiend like" she summons the evil spirits to give her the strength to help Macbeth carry through the murder. At the beginning of the next act Banquo suspects Macbeth to have, "...played'st most foully"(III.i.3), to become king. Banquo does not reveal that he feels that he is in danger from Macbeth and he remains loyal to him. However he does suggest that because the witch's predictions proved true for Macbeth maybe his descendants will become kings as well. Macbeth has invited Banquo to the banquet and does in no way expect him to turn up because he has arranged for him to be killed. When he invites Banquo he is keen to know whether Fleance is going to ride with him, which is because he wants both of them out of the way. He wants Banquo out of the way because he knows about the witch's predictions and he wants Fleance out of the way because it was predicted that Banquo's descendants would become kings. This is when Macbeth starts to push his wife out of the way and take over the action. He does not tell her that he has arranged the death of Banquo and Fleance. He tells her that she should " Be innocent of the knowledge"(III.ii.45). The fact that he is willing to kill a dear friend of his who has fought with him in battle shows the violent side of Macbeth. The fact that Macbeth will not even perform the deed himself shows how he is a coward. ...read more.


The fact that he is willing to carry on, in spite of his men deserting him, gives you the sense of a noble warrior. Another thing that he says is "I 'gin to be weary of the sun." (V.v.48). He is saying here that he is beginning to get tired of life but he goes on to state that whatever the world throws at him he will die fighting. When Lady Macbeth commits suicide we realise that she cannot be fiend-like because she felt the guilt after killing Duncan and she felt the guilt after turning Macbeth into the evil person he became throughout the middle of the play. It is therefore my conclusion that it was wrong to sum up Lady Macbeth as Fiend-like because she did accept what she had done and she felt guilty about it which is why she took her own life. In the next scene Macbeth is fighting with Macduff and he is not afraid because no man that was born of woman can kill him. When Macbeth learns that Macduff was not born of woman but of caesarean (he realises he has been tricked by the witches) all of his confidence is lost. He still fights though even though he knows he is a lost cause. This shows one of his qualities, one that shines through the evil and corrupt soul that has betrayed him throughout. He is then killed. In conclusion I believe I have shown that the description of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is not completely correct for either of them. Whilst Macbeth's ambition made him a murderer, he was not just a "butcher" in the sense that he was troubled by doubts and his conscience and it took his wife's taunts to bring him to commit the murder. Lady Macbeth, shows all "fiendish" qualities by appealing to evil spirits for help to plan the detail of the murder of Duncan. Nevertheless she is troubled by her dreams, which eventually cause her to commit suicide in Act 5 showing her being overcome by guilt for what she had done. ...read more.

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