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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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Introduction

"This dead butcher and his fiend-like Queen" Is this a fair assessment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth? The initial thing that I must do is try to define what is meant by the descriptions; "dead butcher" and "fiend-like Queen". Of course "dead" and "Queen" need no explanation as the characters were plainly these things. By butcher I think it is meant to signify that the speaker of these lines; Malcolm, Duncan's son, believed that Macbeth was an unthinking killer, and a killer of many it also denotes that he was, like a butcher, strong and skilled in his field, though not necessarily brave, as a butcher only kills defenceless animals. Malcolm wanted to say that Macbeth was a slaughterer of masses of people who, when murdered where defenceless. Like King Duncan in his sleep, and Macduff's family, though he was not directly the murderer of the Macduffs, he did order the massacre. With Lady Macbeth being described as "fiend-like" Malcolm sought to make out that Lady Macbeth was a cruel and wicked person, that she was inhuman and like a devil that is an agent of Satan, just as witches were, at that time, considered to be. An interesting definition of fiend is that of a fanatic-"a person motivated by irrational enthusiasm" (quote from Google 'fiend definition'.[http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&lr=&oi=defmore&defl=en&q=define:fiend]). I do however find it interesting to note that Malcolm did not say she was a fiend, but merely that she was ...read more.

Middle

Whilst he wants them dead he cannot do it himself; whilst this does make him evil, it does not make him a butcher. The ordering of death becomes a pattern for Macbeth with the later order of the Macduffs' demise. Is it that Macbeth no longer has the stomach, or mind, for murder, or is it that he is simply using his kingly powers to do what he would if he had the ability, but since he is the King he can get others to do 'his dirty work'? During the banquet in Act 3Scene 4 Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo and is very scared and angry: "If trembling I inhabit then". After the banquet has been brought to an early finish as Macbeth is 'unwell', Macbeth announces to his wife that he is going to seek out the witches: "I will tomorrow.../to the Weird Sisters." During the time of Shakespeare witches were considered to be agents of the Devil, to be visited by one would be terrible, but to seek a witch out was unheard of and a certainty of evil. However, perhaps to explain his actions Macbeth says "I am in blood/Stepped in so far, that should I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as to go o'er." Showing that his has gone so far into evil that it would be as hard to come out as to go on, so he must go on, it is easier for him to go on murdering than to seek forgiveness for his deeds. ...read more.

Conclusion

As he believes that his hands will never be clean. This is an example of 'proleptic irony' as later in the play it is blood on her hands that is the main part of her insanity. However at Act 2 it seems that the murder does not affect Lady Macbeth as she continues to help her husband even fainting in Scene 3 "Help me hence, ho! [Faints" when it seems that Macbeth will incriminate himself. During the early part of Act 3 Macbeth organises murders that he does not tell his wife about; "Lady Macbeth: "What's to be done?" Macbeth: "Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,"" this perhaps annoys Lady Macbeth, however Scene 3 of that same act shows her once more supporting Macbeth in a time of need, when he encounters the ghost Lady Macbeth tries to reassure the guests by telling them "My lord is often thus,/And hath been from his youth." Then she gets them to leave, presumably so Macbeth can keep face. Finally consoling her husband and saying "You lack the season of all natures, sleep." Mentioning that Macbeth has, by murdering the king broken the 'Great Chain of Being', this, like 'Divine Right' was strongly believed in during the times, it stated that everything in the universe had its correct place in a hierarchy, from the lowest being; mud, to the highest; God. ...read more.

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