Macbeth, Fiend? Essay, Research Paper
This dead like butcher and his fiend like queen” is this a fair description of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?
Malcolm made the remark “This dead like butcher and his fiend like queen,” when he was crowned as the king of Scotland, after Macbeth’s reign of terror. It becomes questionable upon the fairness of this justification, whether or not Macbeth was really a “butcher” and whether or not Lady Macbeth was a “fiend.” In some ways, Macbeth would have fit the description of being a “butcher,” after all, he had taken the lives of many people, some of them were even close associates of Macbeth. He assassinated Duncan, the king, in order to gain the throne, as he says, “I have done the deed”
He also murdered Banquo, who was his best friend, due to two different reasons. The first is the witches’ prophecies, which predicted that Banquo’s son is to become king, and secondly, there is a sense that Banquo has his suspicions on the assassinator of the king. Acting under the name of fear, he slaughtered Lady Macduff and her son, due to the prophecies made by the witches, “Beware the thane of Fife”
Macbeth only resolved himself into a far more stereotypical villain when he felt that he had gone to far, as he says, “I am in blood stepped I do far.”
His ambition of staying king now begins to spur him toward further horrifying deeds, and he starts to disregard and even challenge fate and fortune.
Each successive murder reduces his human characteristics still further, until he appears to be the more dominant partner in the marriage. Nevertheless, the new-found resolve, which causes Macbeth to “wade” onward into his self-created river of blood, is persistently alarmed by supernatural events, the ghost of Banquo, an evidence suggesting Macbeth isn’t at the right state of mind, that his guilt has affected him deeply.
Macbeth was also seen as a ruthless tyrannical king, as he is referred to by Malcolm and Macduff, as “tyrant,” and “a devil.” In order to protect his title, Macbeth had to murder those who get in his way, and he even planted spies in every household in Scotland. Near to the end, Macbeth has even, “Forgot the taste of fears” It’s as if he had overcome fear, which had made him able to be ruthless, and murderous. On the other hand the justification of Macbeth as a butcher could not be reasonable, after all, at the beginning of the play he was a warrior hero, whose fame o the battlefield wins him great honour from the king. He was a “Valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman,”
A remark made by the former king whom Macbeth assassinated. Macbeth is portrayed as a brave soldier. Phrases such as “Valour’s minion,” which means servant of courage and “Bellona’s bridegroom,” which means the husband of war gives out a sense of Macbeth’s superheroism. Macbeth and Banquo are also described by the captain as “eagles” and “lions” unafraid of the opposing army, who were compared to ” sparrows and hares.”
The witches made a prophecy that Macbeth was to become Thane of Cawdor, and eventually king of Scotland. It was only after the first prophecy that he was to become Thane of Cawdor became the truth, did he have thoughts of regicide.
Through his asides and soliloquies we, as the audience can see that Macbeth is only a human being whose private ambitions are made clear, as he says “Stars hide your fires let not light see my black and deep desires.” These dark thoughts often conflict with the opinion others have of him, which he describes as, “Golden opinions from all sorts of people”
Ironically, while hiding his “deep and dark desires” Macbeth’s thoughts remained confused before, during and after the murder of Duncan. When he is about to commit murder, he undergoes a terrible pang of conscience, as he says “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent”
And it was only due to the encouragement from Lady Macbeth, did Macbeth find the courage to commit the regicide. Even at the peak time of his tyrannical reign on the country, he was still worried about the late prophecies of the witches, and, perhaps, to an extent he acted under the prophecies of the witches, the murder of Lady Macduff is a strong evidence of Macbeth acting out of his fear that the prophecies of the witches were to come true.
Macbeth also said, “Of all men, I have avoided thee but get thee back my soul is too much charged with blood of thine already” As if suggesting that Macbeth has reflected back on what he had done, and he doesn’t want to continue being a murder. It feels that Macbeth’s stream of conscience, that had previously disappear, reappear, and that Macbeth is not completely evil.
Although Malcolm describes Macbeth as a butcher, in reality, Macbeth was not purely a butcher. Evidence suggests that Macbeth was lost in his mind and the witches prophesies, or maybe, curses. The fact that he had to undergo a change from being a “worthy gentlemen” to a “dead like butcher” seemed to be caused by the witches, and Macbeth’s personal ambition. Nevertheless, Macbeth’s boldness and impression of personal invincibility mark him out for a tragic fall.
Lady Macbeth is often described as one of the most powerful female characters in literature, as a dominating wife, who pushes her husband into his downfall. There are many evidence that suggests Lady Macbeth is a “fiend,” a devil like heartless evil women. It shows to the fact that she seems to be lacking all humanity, where she calls upon the, “spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,” As if to deprive her feminine instincts to care. It also shows, when she was trying to persuade, or many believe command, Macbeth to commit the regicide that she would have “Plucked my nipple from his (her baby’s) boneless gums and dashed the brain out” Suggesting that she is lacking her feminine instinct, having even the thoughts of killing her own child.
Lady Macbeth is portrayed as the woman, even to an extent the reason of Macbeth’s downfall. Had she not encouraged Macbeth to assassinate the king for her ambition to be queen, maybe Macbeth wouldn’t have met his downfall. She could also be portrayed as evil, after all she did accuse her husband of being a coward, encouraging him to “screw your courage to the sticking place” and perhaps, to an extent, insulting Macbeth’s manhood, despite all the bravery that Macbeth had previously shown in the battle field, which made him to be described as a brave warrior.
Many evidence suggests that she is a good actress, in a sense that she able to act as the consummate hostess, enticing the king into her castle. When she faints immediately after the murder of Duncan, the audience is left wondering whether this too, is a perfect act, or her feminine instinct coming out at last.
However, on the other hand, there is some evidence that must be taken into account. Lady Macbeth acknowledged the guilt, and bore it, until her state of mind became very disturbed. Lady Macbeth was washed by the guilt of assassinating Duncan, that she became a mere shadow of her commanding self, as she fails the test of her own hardened ruthlessness. Her death is the event that causes Macbeth to ruminate for one last time, on the nature of time.
It also becomes arguable whether her speech, “Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here” Is due to her lacking of humanity, as mentioned above, or the fact that she was just a woman, who didn’t have the power to do what she had done in the end. This piece of evidence is based upon the fact that she couldn’t commit the murder herself, as she says “Had he (Duncan) not resembled my father as he slept, I had done ‘t” If she was really ambitious to become queen, and if she were really evil, she would have found the courage to do the deed, overcoming every possible barrier.
Another fact that is to be put forward, is the fact that Lady Macbeth only started to have thoughts of becoming queen after she received the letter from Macbeth, informing her of the thoughts of killing the king. It also has to put in mind that it was Macbeth who first thought of regicide, not Lady Macbeth. In my opinion, Lady Macbeth only tried to help Macbeth to realise his dreams, with her ambition being queen coming with it. Perhaps Lady Macbeth knew that Macbeth would keep on reflecting back on the thoughts, and never does the deed, she then called upon “Spirits that tend on mortal thought” To help her persuade Macbeth to do the regicide. In some ways, the witches are more responsible for Macbeth’s downfall, as it was them who made Macbeth think of regicide, not Lady Macbeth.
There are also two ways, in which we can interpret Lady Macbeth as, the dominant, commanding wife with an ambition to be queen bigger that Macbeth’s ambition of being King. Or the manipulative wife, whose ambition is just as big as Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth may be described as a fiend by Malcolm, and may have been a fiend to an extent, that she manipulated her husband into doing the things Macbeth has done, which may have been against Macbeth’s will. She also accused her husband on being a coward, showing that she could fit the description as a fiend. However, she is not what we would call as purely evil, or lacking humanity, because she, is after all, a woman, whose instinct still remains with her, despite what she had done. She was also washed over by guilt, and became mentally deranged, even before Macbeth.
Overall, the remarks that Malcolm made may have their justifications, as to an extent, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are a pair of “butcher and his fiend queen”. However, to an extent these justifications may not fit either Macbeth or Lady Macbeth, as they have had their own humanity within them, as if the “butcher” and “fiend” were just a part of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s alter ego.