"this dead butcher, and his fiend-like queen". Are these words by Malcolm an appropriate epitaph for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?

Authors Avatar

Jan-Sher Bhatti 10MS        English Coursework-Macbeth        20/01/03

“this dead butcher, and his fiend-like queen”. Are these words by Malcolm an appropriate epitaph for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?


        Malcolm says this epitaph after Macduff has severed Macbeth’s head and walks into the castle. Macduff then informs his companions to proclaim “Hail, King of Scotland!” signifying he is King, which all of his companions declare. Then Malcolm states that he and everyone else will not waste their time. Malcolm also says to his Thanes and Kinsmen to be hereby known as Earls, which is what the British Thanes were called. In the same speech he exclaims that the people that fled to England (himself, Malcolm, and his brother, Donalbain) knew what Scotland had produced  and he describes Macbeth as a “butcher” and Lady Macbeth as a “fiend-like Queen”, but is this true?


        Malcolm describes Macbeth as a “butcher” as he feels he mercilessly killed people. Below are some points that support Malcolm’s view of Macbeth.

        The first sign of Macbeth becoming a “butcher” is when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plan to murder King Duncan whilst he is sleeping; this occurs in Act 1 Scene 7, although it is Lady Macbeth that persuades him to do it.

In Act 3 Scene 1, we can see the first steps that Macbeth is becoming a “butcher” as he plans the death of Banquo and Fleance whilst they travel on horseback. He tells the murderers to take revenge on Banquo because it is Banquo’s fault and not his own fault that they do not have any luxuries. He whispers,

“That is was he in the times past which held you

So under fortune, which you thought had been

Our innocent self.”

 He tries to persuade them that becoming assassins will make them ‘real’ men. This shows that Macbeth is becoming a butcher because he has planned to kill, firstly the King whom he served, and then an old friend.

Another point in the play where Macbeth is becoming more and more like a “butcher” is when Macbeth goes to see the Weird Sisters for a second time in Act 4 Scene 1. He becomes so annoyed he exclaims;

The very firstlings of my heart shall be

The firstlings of my hand.

What Macbeth means here is that whatever his heart wants he will do that straight away, e.g. if his heart wants to kill then he will kill with his hands. This quotation also shows the reader or viewer that Macbeth’s heart is becoming more and more bitter and he is also becoming more resentful.

Join now!

Also in Act 4 Scene 1, just after Macbeth has visited the Weird Sisters, Macbeth intends to slaughter the whole of Macduff’s family for vengeance. Macbeth yells;

“…give to the edge o’ th’ sword

His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls

That trace him in his line.”

This obviously shows that Macbeth is now a butcher as, out of spite and jealousy, Macbeth is going to slaughter the entire family of Macduff although he knows they are innocent.

Another example of Macbeth turning to a “butcher” is in Act 5 Scene 5. Macbeth is speaking to Seyton, after ...

This is a preview of the whole essay

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay


This is an interesting quote to explore and use as a base to an essay; however the points in this essay are not developed enough or considered within the context of the whole play. Language choices are considered but structure and form aren't: these are a must in an analytical essay. This essay shows a good understanding of the play, but this knowledge just needs to be used in a more effective manner. 4 Stars