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This dead butcher and his fiend-like queen

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The images portrayed by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth change dramatically throughout the play. I believe that the quote ‘this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen’ is not an accurate assessment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Although there were elements of butchery in Macbeths behavior, he also had many strengths. He was heroic, brave, and ambitious and was a good husband however, his behavior changed throughout the play. At the beginning Macbeth was a respected, loyal, patriotic soldier and was even manipulated by his wife by her questioning his manhood. He was very dependent on Lady Macbeth because she was the one with all the ambition and aspiration. This is a very different Macbeth to what we see him as later on in the play. He becomes confident, devious, malevolent, and malicious.

The word ‘butcher’ refers to killing, slaughtering and slaying with no motivation, no feeling and senselessness. Macbeth has aspects of these but when he kills he is very motivated. When he wanted to kill Banquo, the murderers first refuse to do so but Macbeth kept at it and finally persuaded and manipulated them by questioning their manhood. He says things like ‘to be thus is nothing but to be safely thus’ and ‘you know that Banquo was your enemy.’

After Macbeth killed Duncan he felt very guilty because Duncan was a god friend and had done nothing wrong. Macbeths guilt and regret were slowly building up inside him. A butcher would kill with no feeling. Macbeth, when he killed Duncan, was filled with feeling. Closer to the end of the play Macbeth went on a killing spri and felt as though once he started he couldn’t stop. This suggests that he was butcher like.

Towards the end of the play when the news of but it Lady Macbeths Death reaches Macbeth all he says “She should have died hereafter…” Given the great love between them, his response is oddly subdued, and turns quickly into a speech of such pessimism and despair that the audience realizes how completely his wife’s death and the ruin of his power have undone Macbeth. His speech suggests that there is no meaning or purpose to life.

‘This fiend-like queen’.

Lady Macbeth was very positive and motivated. Her reaction to the witches news about Macbeth becoming king and her being so motivated to kill Duncan would make you see her as wicked, evil, devilish, cruel and fiend-like although there is absolutely no evidence of her wanting to be queen. Her efforts were for her husband, Macbeth. After Duncan had been killed Lady Macbeth also felt regret for his death “Nought’s had, all spent, where our desires is got without content. ‘Tis safer to destroy than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy”.

Lady Macbeth is commited and will always keep her word. We know this because when Macbeth is trying to back out of killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth tells him that if she had said she would do something, that she would do it would do it no matter what “…I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I sworn as you have done this”. This shocks Macbeth and comes across as evil and cruel but it is just an example of utter commitment and dedication.

Lady Macbeth, before scheming to kill Duncan, asks the spirits to chastise her. Obviously, she knows that she will not be able to carry out the deed without the help of evil spirits. “Come you spirits, unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe topfull of direst cruelty; and make thick my blood…” In this speech, there is no confusion as Lady Macbeth is clearly willing to do whatever is necessary to seize the throne. Her strength of purpose is contrasted with her husband’s tendency to waver. This speech shows the audience that Lady Macbeth is the real steel behind Macbeth and that her ambition will be strong enough to drive her husband forward.

Earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth possessed a stronger resolve and sense of purpose than her husband and was the driving force behind their plot to kill Duncan. When Macbeth believed his hand was irreversibly bloodstained and was overcome by regret and guilt earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth told him, “A little water clears us of this deed”. This suggests that she has no conscience, principles or values. It is strange how she says this because later on in the play she is the one who is driven mad by the horrible deed and is sleepwalking and constantly washing her hands in her sleep. She is completely undone by guilt and descends into madness. The fact that it seems like she has no conscience could be seen as wicked and evil.

The quote “This dead butcher and his fiend-like queen” to me is not a very accurate assessment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. There are aspects that do reflect the characters a bit although the images portrayed are not portrayed completely in that way.

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