Macbeth - Is Malcolm's assessment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth justified?

Essay by weeronniesun June 2004

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In the play, 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare, Malcolm refers to Macbeth as a "Butcher" and, Lady Macbeth as a "fiend-like queen". This is only true to an extent as although this assessment of their character would have made it easier to cope with the consequences of their actions their feelings finally overcame them. When Malcolm calls Macbeth a "butcher" then he is implying that Macbeth kills people without feeling and emotion as if it was a job. Malcolm also calls Lady Macbeth a "fiend-like queen", this assessment means that she is evil and cruel.

Macbeth is seen to be a "butcher" as he has done many horrible and heinous things throughout the play. Firstly, he murders Duncan who at the time was king of Scotland. Macbeth's only reason for killing the King was to fulfil the witch's prophecies.

"All hail Macbeth that shalt be King hereafter"

After this murder many of the thanes got suspicious of Macbeth and he feared that Banquo might have told the other thanes of the witches' prophecies.

Therefore, Macbeth hires two murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. Banquo is killed but Fleance is able to escape.

"Our fears in Banquo stick deep, and in his royalty of nature reigns that which would be fear'd."

Then, Macbeth had Macduff's wife and children killed because Macbeth is angry with Macduff for fleeing to join Malcolm. This murder is purely out of spite and makes Macbeth look like a "butcher". All these deaths leave Macbeth to stay on the throne and everyone starts to become suspicious of him and leave him to go and join Malcolm in England. This final act of murder is the one which portrays Macbeth at his most butcher-like. However being a "butcher" requires a cold callousness that Macbeth does not possess...