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Scottish General (The Reputation vs. The Man)

The tragedy begins amid a bloody civil war where the first introduction to the Scottish General Macbeth is given by a wounded soldier. A colourful and extensive exaltation of Macbeth’s prowess and valour in battle is illustrated. When the battle is won, largely due to the skillful leadership of Macbeth and Banquo, King Duncan honours his Generals with high praise and awards Macbeth with the title of a traitor awaiting execution, the Thane of Cawdor. Although Macbeth has not yet made his initial appearance, the audience is given a clear indication of his righteous reputation on the battlefield and with the King.

After the first meeting with the witches in Act 1 Scene III, it soon becomes apparent that Macbeth the man may not be analogous to the alleged General. His immediate thoughts of regicide after the witches’ prophecy that he will become King of Scotland demonstrate that he is not as loyal to the King as his reputation contends. (In medieval times and in the Elizabethan era, thoughts of murdering royalty were punishable by death). When thinking of this evil thought Macbeth claims to himself it “…doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs against the use of nature” this shows that he is quite shaken by his own idea. Also, in an aside at the end of Act I Scene III he states “If chance may have me king, why chance may crown me without my stir” and “Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day” this demonstrates that he is not entirely won over by his murderous thoughts. He is considering the possibility that the kingship will fall into his lap by luck alone and that he will not have to take any action in order to fulfill the last prophecy. The witches have undoubtedly proven their credibility to Macbeth since they “have more in them than mortal knowledge”. Macbeth continues thinking about the prophecies; ignoring Banquo’s sound advice that “oftentimes to win us to our...
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