Please provide an analysis on loyalty based on this quote from Macbeth, act 1 scene 2: Till he faced the slave;Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,Till he unseam'd him from the...

Please provide an analysis on loyalty based on this quote from Macbeth, act 1 scene 2:

Till he faced the slave;
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix'd his head upon our battlements. 

Expert Answers
andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quote is an extract from a report to Duncan by an injured sergeant who has been involved, with Macbeth, in a conflict against the king's enemies. He is asked by Malcolm, Duncan's eldest son, to divulge information about the battle:

... Say to the king the knowledge of the broil
As thou didst leave it.

In his report, the sergeant refers specifically to Macbeth. In the quote provided, 'the slave' is a metaphor for the traitor Macdonwald, who is also described as being without mercy. 'Slave' suggests that Macdonwald was a servant of evil, controlled by his savagery and desire for power. He was a ruthless adversary, but Macbeth faced him without any fear. The sergeant says that Macbeth did not let up in his fight against his enemy, he was relentless and pursued Macdonwald, he neither greeted nor bade him farewell.

This suggests moreover, that Macbeth had no time for pleasantries and was resolute, committed to the task at hand - destroying his king and country's adversaries. Those who challenged his beloved Scotland and his king, were to be treated with utter contempt and had to be extinguished.

Macbeth's unabating battle against Macdonwald resulted in his victory. He 'unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,' which means he cut him in two, from his navel to his jaw. Once Macbeth had executed him, he placed his head on top of the castle wall.

The description indicates Macbeth's willingness to do everything in his power to defend his country and his king. It is this loyalty that drives him and gives him the passion to fight fiercely and persistently. He is not afraid to face any risk or challenge and seems to actually relish destroying opponents to his king and country. He inspires those in battle with him and this inspiration is what eventually ensures Duncan's victory over Macdonwald, Sweno of Norway and the traitorous thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth's loyalty is clearly evidenced by his gloriously courageous actions and he therefore rightfully deserves king Duncan's grateful praise and his reward, the title, 'thane of Cawdor.' 

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Macbeth

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