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With close reference to the text, discuss how far the term "butcher", can be applied to the character, Macbeth.

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Introduction

With close reference to the text, discuss how far the term "butcher", can be applied to the character, Macbeth. The actual definition of a butcher in the dictionary is "an indiscriminate or brutal murderer", someone who savagely murders without reason. But the term butcher cannot be put upon Macbeth as simply as that. Macbeth is a complex and contradictory character and many things he does or says in the play go against the term "butcher". For example, the letter he sends his wife. It shows his love and respect for Lady Macbeth. In addition, at the start of the play, Duncan refers to him as "Noble Macbeth." Duncan and his noble men have high opinions of him. However, there is also a lot of evidence that says Macbeth is a cold-blooded Murderer. Shakespeare has Macbeth kill Lady Macduff and her child for no reason, when women and children are thought the most innocent of all people. At the start of the play, the witches, who are recognised as evil and supernatural, mention Macbeth's name. This dramatically links Macbeth to evil and is a device used by Shakespeare to show a sense of foreboding surrounding Macbeth. It tells the audience to watch out for him. The term used by the witches, "fair is foul and foul is fair," can be used here. Macbeth is thought of as noble, but noble people can turn evil. It leaves the audience confused from the very first scenes. A psychological progression can be seen, from 'brave Macbeth' (Act 1, scene 1, line 16) to 'dead butcher' (Act 5, scene 9, line 36). Macbeth is the main character of the play so a lot is known about him, including, a lot of the time, what he is thinking or feeling. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth has the ambition but no drive to push it. The character of Lady Macbeth is therefore required to provide Macbeth with a push to fulfill his royal ambitions. Macbeth is almost 'forced' by Lady Macbeth to murder Duncan. It is not fully his decision so even though he says, "I am settled" about the murder, the dagger proves he isn't. These things suggest Macbeth has a conscience and therefore is not a cold-blooded murderer. He still feels guilt, regret and fear. It is interesting to have a murderer as the hero, or main character of this play. The audience do not usually see into the murderer's mind, they just assume the killer is evil and that's the end of it. But it is hard to pinpoint Macbeth as evil when what is going through his mind is known to the audience, and when his conscience can be seen. This is why the question "Is Macbeth a butcher," is not a simple one to answer. The audience can see, as well as Macbeth's evil side, his good, weak and pitiful side. Nonetheless, the audience cannot fail to notice Macbeth's many butcher like deeds. From the very beginning of the play, Shakespeare has shown the witches arranging to meet Macbeth, thus linking him to evil. Act 1, scene1, line 8: "There to meet with Macbeth." Shakespeare also uses the weather and nature to link Macbeth in with the supernatural. The night he murders Duncan Shakespeare uses dramatic devices such as an owl's hoot or thunder and lightning. Lennox says, in Act 2, scene 3, line 51: "The night has been unruly. ...read more.

Conclusion

He will do anything and will stop at nothing to preserve the crown in his head. By Act 5, scene 5 Macbeth is a different man. The death of the wife he once loved so much comes as no shock to him. He is emotionless. Act 5, scene 5, line 17: "She should have died hereafter: There would have been a time for such a word." This is the scene in which he realises he has lost all emotion. He has "almost forgot the taste of fears," This is very symbolic as a butcher is thought of as someone with no emotions, who kills without thought or reason. That is almost what Macbeth has become. The King gave Macbeth the title Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth has replaced a traitor and dies a traitor. From closely analysing the character of Macbeth I can see he is a man with great ambition and greed, but also a weak and pitiful nature. He is, after all, the hero of the play, and he dies like a hero. But there is no denying the things Macbeth has done. He has killed without reason or emotion. We as the audience can see his conscience working but we can also see him ignoring it. As the play goes on we witness Lady Macbeth's slip into madness as Macbeth carries on killing. We can't deny his bravery and skill but his bad qualities overrule the good. A conscience is not enough to 'clear you of the deed'. Macbeth enters the play as a hero and ultimately dies like one, but he is an evil man with thoughts only for himself. That is why, after a close study of is character, I believe his action are primarily the actions of a butcher. ...read more.

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