In "Macbeth", what happened to the original Thane of Cawdor and what does this event foreshadow?
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The original Thane of Cawdor was executed for treason because he fought with the Norwegians against Scotland. His execution foreshadows Macbeth's own death later in the play. Ironically, Macbeth's rise in power begins when he is given the executed thane's title and possessions as a reward for his bravery in battle. Although he fought to defend King Duncan and Scotland then, after he becomes the Thane of Cawdor as the witches had predicted, Macbeth begins to plot his ascension to the throne, and his own downfall ensues.
With the execution of the Thane of Cawdor, a title Macbeth is given by King Duncan for his bravery on the battlefield, Macbeth's future actions against the king are foreshadowed. He too will commit a horrific act of treason, killing the king, or regicide.
So the title of Thane of Cawdor inspires the bearer to commit treason. When Macbeth is given this title, the reader can anticipate that he will begin to act against the king. It is the first sign that the witches prophecy is coming true, and sets the whole of Macbeth's murderous behavior in motion.
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