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Malcolm Refers to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1345
  • Category: Macbeth

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Macbeth is a play written by William Shakespeare about a soldier being loyal to King Duncan who then becomes a murderer. On the other hand his wife, Lady Macbeth is a character that calls upon evil spirits to take away her femininity so she can help her husband slay King Duncan in order to become queen. One view is that Macbeth was a ‘dead butcher and his wife a fiend like queen’. Alternatively this interpretation is open to judgement and I will attempt to investigate further and find out how true this statement is.

At the beginning, Macbeth is seen as a devoted soldier to the King; however this claim becomes more doubtful as I read further on in the play. This is shown when Macbeth ‘Unseamed’ Macdonald from ‘The navel to the chaps’. Although Macdonald was the enemy, it is the manner of the brutal killing conducted by Macbeth that makes me question if he can be labelled a butcher or not.

When Macbeth was first introduced to the witches, he was with Banquo and did not realise at this point their purpose or what activities they were involved in. He sought to find out who they were by saying:

‘Speak if you can: what are you?’

The witches had beards but were all women, which was puzzling to both Macbeth and Banquo.

‘You should be women/And yet your beards forbid me to interpret/That you are so’

This shows that the witches were not human like because they had some features of men, for instance their beards.

Macbeth put a lot of faith in the witches but this resulted in him losing all his faith in God. He was not aware that the witches’ predictions had hidden consequences to them and this led him to kill King Duncan. Lady Macbeth also supported her husband by making the guards drunk and after the murder covering them with King Duncan’s blood as well as laying the daggers upon them. On seeing this people would suspect the guards of having a direct involvement in the King’s murder and Lady Macbeth’s plan would succeed.

When Macbeth kills King Duncan, he has no right in taking a soul of another man. He only killed him for his own purpose and had been seduced by evil so deeply that he could not escape it. After killing King Duncan, the next day he killed the two guards, meaning they could not deny being murderers or being drunk when called upon. This meant that on committing such an act Macbeth was unable to reply Amen when the guards said:

‘God bless us!’

On sensing Macbeth, the second witch feels something evil is approaching them. She then says:

‘Something wicked this way comes;’

If the witch is saying something evil is emerging close to them and they themselves are malicious, then Macbeth must be filled with malice.

Macbeth arranges to kill Banquo and Fleance because the witches had told and later showed him the descendants of Banquo being kings. After he saw the 8 sprits of Banquo’s descendants he says:

‘For the blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me,/And points at them for his’

He arranged to kill them so they cannot become kings after Macbeth and that he desired to slay the innocent for his own needs. This is an act of butchery, the same method a butcher uses to slaughter an animal for its own needs; similarly Macbeth commits the same act.

Macbeth killed Macduff’s family out of spite without any acceptable reason. The main reason he had this done was due to the actions of Macduff. This is also an act of butchery due to Macduff fleeing to England so that he could raise a large army to fight Macbeth. Macduff was very suspicious of Macbeth from the start after the death of Duncan. Macbeth’s lack of time is demonstrated when he states:

‘From this moment/They very firstling of my heart shall be/The firstling of my hand’

Macduff’s family was murdered as Macbeth was unable to control his anger; therefore he had no motive of doing such an act. Macbeth says:

‘For mine own good,/All causes shall give way. I am in blood/Stepped in so far that should what I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as go o’er.’

This shows that Macbeth realises that he is obsessed with killing others and he cannot find a way of stopping himself from doing so. He does not attempt in any way to halt these horrific acts as he commits numerous amounts of murders, it now appears to him as a normal action. Macbeth says:

‘Things bad began, make strong themselves by ill./So pithee, go with me’

When someone is on the road of bad deeds, he can not stop committing evil from feeding its self. In this quote, ‘ill’ is refers to the evil, again Macbeth realises that he is possessed with it and has no intention of doing anything about it just yet.

When we were first introduced to Lady Macbeth in the play, she was reading a letter which Macbeth had written to her after the incident with the witches telling him that he will be king. Immediately after she had finished reading the letter, she decided that she will definitely make her husband King.

‘Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be/What thou art promised.’

Thereafter, Lady Macbeth calls upon evil spirits to take away her femininity because she knows that she will not be able to murder anyone without the sprits of evil because she has no evil inside her.

‘Come you spirits/That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here/And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full/Of direst cruelty;’

Lady Macbeth did not have to call upon evil spirits if she was a noble woman and therefore would not have taken part in the murder.

She knows that killing Duncun is the only way to make her husband king.

‘He that’s coming,/Must be provided for.’

When the attendant informs her that King Duncan will be staying the night she realises that both herself and her husband have a perfect opportunity to put her plan into motion.

Later in the play, Macbeth had second thoughts of whether he should or should not kill King Duncan. In the end he changes his mind that he was not going to kill King Duncan. When Lady Macbeth realises this, she knows that she must act quickly because if they miss the night to kill Duncan, their chance to kill him will be gone. She quickly uses strong, effective words to make Macbeth change his mind by saying the following:

‘I have given suck, and know/How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:/ would, while it was smiling in my face,/Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,/And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you/Have done to this.’

Primarily, Lady Macbeth had to use all her power to convince Macbeth to murder. Now he commits it without discussing it with her. It is becoming extremely easy for him. Macbeth may have also been saying some of his angry words at her. His fury and menace would really be frightening, especially as earlier in the play she thinks he would be too mild to kill the king in the first place.


All of the above evidence leads me to agree with Malcolm’s statement. The reason why I believe this to be true is because of all the demonic, butchery actions which Macbeth had carried out. There were no limits in his quest to become king. One by one, he removed all those in his path through brutal murder. His actions are equivalent to those of a butcher, by slaughtering humans as if they were animals. Lady Macbeth was the source behind the killing. She provoked him to commit the murders.

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