In Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth, the following statement can be applied, "Macbeth is a butcher and Lady Macbeth is a fiend-like queen." This is a true statement as many occurrences involving Macbeth and Lady Macbeth portray them in this way. A butcher can be defined as someone who kills or has people killed needlessly or brutally. The term butcher used in this way describes Macbeth to some extent. During the play, Macbeth is involved in the murder of many people, including King Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff's wife and children. A fiend can be described as a very wicked or cruel person, or one who causes mischief and annoyance. This can be applied to Lady Macbeth, who had only her own intentions at heart. On many occasions Lady Macbeth shows fiend-like traits, especially when plotting to kill Duncan, framing the servants after he has been killed, and also when she fails to stop Macbeth from killing Banquo. These events are examples of when the two characters show these traits.
In the beginning of the play, Macbeth can be described as being loyal, courageous and noble. He is liked, trusted and respected by everyone around him. However this soon changes after his first encounter with the three witches. This is because the witches inform Macbeth that his life could be far different, therefore changing Macbeth's perception of his life. In doing this, they do not actually use true powers, they use the power of suggestion. This is where we begin to see a change in Macbeth's outlook on life and his behaviour. Being the ambitious man that he is, Macbeth's thoughts become dark, and he secretly thinks about what should be done about King Duncan to increase his own power. In spite of this fact, the play is equivocal as to whether or not Macbeth intended on killing Duncan before he met with the witches. In Act One, Scene three, Macbeth says:
This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in truth? I am Thane of Cawdor:
In this passage Macbeth seems to be questioning himself as to what he should do next. The first prediction that the witches made has come true, and he is now considering whether or not there will be any truth in the prediction about him becoming king. He seems unsure if he should act upon their predictions or not.
Macbeth is eventually persuaded to murder Duncan by his wife. Duncan's death is a brutal act, especially as King Duncan was Macbeth's guest and relative, and he was also a good King that did not deserve to die. The crime of killing Duncan seems especially barbaric as Macbeth killed him in his sleep. After killing Duncan, Macbeth becomes somewhat remorseful and also afraid.
Macbeth soon realises that he can not stop at just killing King Duncan. There are now other people that he must eliminate in order to retain his position as King. He realises that the one person who is most likely to threaten his position is Banquo. This is because Banquo was present when the weird sisters gave Macbeth their predictions, and he may suspect that Macbeth is the true murderer of the King. In Act Three, Scene One, Line 48, there is a large speech which shows Macbeth's fears about Banquo's knowledge of his dirty crime. After this speech, the three murderers enter, and he assigns them to kill both Banquo and his son Fleance. This act does seem to be butcher-like as Banquo was Macbeth's best friend and had done nothing wrong. However, it has become a necessity for Macbeth to have Banquo killed.
The third example of where Macbeth is a butcher, is when he hires the murderers to kill Macduff's family. Once again, they have done nothing wrong, but he kills them in order to hurt Macduff. This is a particularly brutal act, to kill the innocent children and their mother. But by this time Macbeth is so full of power, ambition and assurance he will do anything to get what he strives for. ...
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