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"This dead butcher and his fiend like queen."  To what extent do you agree with...

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sarajane | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 24, 2010 at 6:53 PM via web

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"This dead butcher and his fiend like queen."  To what extent do you agree with Malcom's judgment?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 24, 2010 at 9:27 PM (Answer #1)

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Macbeth ends with a monologue by Malcolm, the next king of Scotland.  He summarizes the fate of the tragic couple thusly:

Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
Who, as 'tis thought, by self and violent hands
Took off her life; this, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace,
We will perform in measure, time and place:
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone.

Translated, it sounds like this in plain English:

This dead butcher and his demon-like queen, who, rumor has it, committed suicide. This, and whatever else we are called to do by God, we will do at the right time and in the right place. So I thank you all, and I invite each and every one of you to come watch me be crowned king of Scotland at Scone.

So, do I agree with Malcolm's description of the Macbeths?  Macbeth is "dead," so that's a good word to use.  Was he a "butcher"?  Yes, our first description of Macbeth comes from the bleeding captain, who says:

[Macbeth] unseemed [Macdonwald] from the nave to chaps and placed his head upon our battlements.

So, Macbeth gutted and beheaded his enemy, Macdonwald.  Later, he has his best friend butchered.  He also has Lady Macduff and her son butchered.  He butchers Young Siward.  So, the word is justified.  After all, Macbeth says, "blood will have blood."  That is the mantra for the National Butchers Association, I believe.

Is Lady Macbeth a "fiend-like" queen?  Well, she does hold a kind of seance at the beginning of the play, where she asks for murdering ministers to enter her body.

Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances(50)
You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark
To cry, “Hold, hold!”

If one invites demons to come in it must make one fiendish.  Later, she will sleepwalk, constantly wash her bloody hands, and commit suicide--all these also qualify as being possessed by a demon.

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dani-a | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 10, 2011 at 5:43 PM (Answer #2)

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I think that Macbeth is not a butcher. Despite the many terrible crimes that he has commited he cannot be deemed as a butcher due to the fact that he feels regret for his actionstowards the end of his life which is shown in his speech in act 5 scene 3. Lady Macbeth may have tried to portray herself as a demon, someone who feels no remorse for the horrible crimes she has done but the image is not constant as we see in act 2 scene 2 that she did not murder Duncan herself as he looked like her father as he slept. This symbolizes that she is ot completly devoid of emotion and love. In addition in act 3 scene 2 when she muses that she has everything she wants but is still not entirely happy symbolizes that she feels regret for her crimes and did not anticipate that the murder of Duncan would undo her in such a fashion. this is also shown in act 5 scene 1 when lady macbeth appears sleepwalking and tries to clear her hands of the stain of blood. Thus I conclude that Macbeth is not a butcher as he feels regret for the crimes that he is done. He does them because his power begets fear and also due to his ambition.

 

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