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What are some quotes in Shakespeare's Macbeth that show betrayal?

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fieryangel | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:32 AM via web

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What are some quotes in Shakespeare's Macbeth that show betrayal?

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amymc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted May 3, 2012 at 12:18 AM (Answer #1)

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The capacity to betray based on greed and ambition is a central theme in the work, so quotes on this subject are plentiful.  Here are a few.

1. Macbeth considers killing the king, the ultimate form of betrayal, after the witches prophecies begin to come true.  He admits this desire when he says,

why do I yield to that suggestion                                             Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair                                         And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,                             Against the use of nature? (I, iii)

He understands that this betrayal is evil.

2. As the time for murder approaches, Macbeth runs through the reasons for not killing the king.  The king is his own kin who trusts Macbeth and has just rewarded his valor in battle.  Yet he decides to kill him anyway as evidenced by the line,

I am settled, and bend up                                                       Each corporal agent to this terrible feat (I,vii).

Macbeth has allowed his wife to convince him to commit the murder.

3.  Banquo, Macbeth's friend who also witnessed and received prophecies, begins to suspect the betrayal after the murder.  He notes to himself that

Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,                                 As the weird women promised, and, I fear,                                 Thou play'dst most foully for't: ( III i).

However, this realization is too late.  Macbeth makes yet another betrayal and kills his own friend to secure the crown for himself.

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