This dead butcher- to what extent do you regard this description of Macbeth to be fair and accurate?

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“This dead butcher”- to what extent do you regard this description of Macbeth to be fair and accurate?

In Act five scene nine the character of Macbeth is described to the audience as “This dead Butcher”. The aim of my essay is to explore to what extent this description of Macbeth is fair and accurate. I deem this statement to have truth at certain points within the play yet at other times Macbeth is seen to poses qualities that do show him as a “dead butcher”. All of which are the contributing factors that cause the opinions of Macbeth to deteriorate from admired and respected to malicious and ‘butcher’ like.

We first hear of Macbeth from the witches. Consequently the reader creates a link between Macbeth and the witches as they state, “There to meet Macbeth”. This association is not alarming but sufficient to raise the thought that Macbeth cannot be good if he is connected to them. The fact they are to meet Macbeth implies an alliance between them which is reinforced later in the play. However, I feel that the initial link with the witches is forgotten when Macbeth is doused with praise when we hear of his reports from the battle field.

The first impression of Macbeth as a character rather than just a name is a positive one that does not portray Macbeth as a “dead butcher”. When we hear news of the battle field from a wounded soldier we hear how having been so close to defeat Macbeth, who “disdained fortune” manages to bring a Scottish victory. This shows him as a courageous and respected warrior, marching into battle despite the odds, with the sole intention to fight. He is described by the captain as, “Valour’s minion”. The choice of language Shakespeare uses here helps to convey this noble view of Macbeth, by personifying him as its minion implies his only function is to serve valour by being brave and showing dedication to fighting for the greater good. It is within this glowing report that one might see qualities of Macbeth that could be seen as “butcher” like. He takes a very gruesome approach to killing,

“unseamed him from the nave th ‘chaps

And fixed his head upon our battlements”

This description illustrates a seemingly unnecessary and blood thirsty way of killing him, which could arguably show Macbeth possessing traits that show him as deserving of the title of “dead butcher”. However, I feel that Macbeth’s violent actions were not only the appropriate contemporary punishment for a traitor but they can be put down to his determination and passion for the battle. This I feel can support the courageous image we get of Macbeth instead of the reverse as it was done with the mind set to achieve success for Scotland and for the revenge of King Duncan.
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Before the murder of Duncan it is hard to see Macbeth as the Butcher he is described as at the end of the play due to his mindset not being that of a murderer. We hear from Lady Macbeth that she believes Macbeth is “too full o’th’ milk of human kindness” to take short cuts, she states that his nature is too tender-hearted for murder. This is also supported by Macbeth when, after hearing the Witches’ prophecies he proclaims, “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me king, without my stir” which shows how Macbeth ...

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