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Is Macbeth a butcher and Lady Macbeth a ¡°fiend like queen¡±?

Uploaded by James Wang on Sep 05, 2004

Malcolm calls Macbeth a butcher, someone who kills without a conscience and without a reason. He also describes Lady Macbeth as a “fiend like queen” which means one with only evil in her character. Neither Macbeth nor Lady Macbeth fit these descriptions. These descriptions are too simplistic but both characters are more complex.

Macbeth at the beginning of the play was not a butcher. He killed many enemies in the war but not one in cold blood. Macbeth was a highly regarded kinsman and Thane. “For brave Macbeth, well he deserves that name.” “O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman.” In the war against Norway, Macbeth presented himself as “noble Macbeth”, “brave Macbeth” and “valiant cousin” to King Duncan. Clearly at this point, Macbeth was not a butcher.

Many would regard Macbeth as a butcher because of his murder of Duncan, the two servants and Banquo. But Macbeth had reasons for these murders. He did not kill without any reason like a butcher would. Unlike a butcher who would not have a conscience, Macbeth suffered from his conscience. Macbeth’s conscience persuaded him no to kill Duncan, but his wife and his ambition over drove his conscience. However, Macbeth still suffered from his conscience. “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle towards my hand?” Would a butcher have such doubt? After Duncan was dead, Macbeth felt remorse. “Wake Duncan with thy knocking, I would thou couldst.” Obviously Macbeth had regrets about what he had done. Would a butcher have regrets? He was clearly doing something that was alien to his nature. He was a killer and it’s despicable what he had done, but he was not a senseless butcher. In his mind, Macbeth had a reason. Macbeth killed the servants brutally, but again he killed them for a reason. For Banquo, he only killed Banquo out of the fear he had. “Our fears in Banquo stick deep.” The ghost of Banquo has also shown that Macbeth had a conscience. Would a butcher have a conscience? Clearly Macbeth was not a butcher.

However the death of Lady Macduff and her family was an act of butchery, but again it could be argued that there was a reason for his monstrous act. Macbeth couldn’t get hold of Macduff because he was in England, so the only thing he could do to hurt Macduff was to kill his family. When Macbeth met Macduff at the...

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Uploaded by:   James Wang

Date:   09/05/2004

Category:   Macbeth

Length:   3 pages (678 words)

Views:   7686

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