"Macbeth ends himself as a souless man, as a beast chained to a stake and slaughtered like a beast." Discuss in relation to Shakespeare's Macbeth.

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I really like this statement! Of course, the statement refers directly to an analogy that Macbeth makes about his own predicament in Act V scene 7, abandoned by all of his soldiers and left to defend himself from an attack alone. Notice how he compares himself to a bear tied to a stake and being bated by those around him:

They have tied me to a stake: I cannot fly,

But, bear-like, I must fight the course.

We can definitely therefore agree that Macbeth appears to be like a beast chained to a stake. However, I personally would disagree with the rest of the statement. It is perhaps ironic that Macbeth, in the final scene where so much goes against him, is given some of his most memorable speeches by Shakespeare. Consider his "Out, out, brief candle" speech in Act V scene 5. There is true eloquence and nobility in the way he faces his doom, and certainly he does not present himself as a souless man or as somebody who is slaughtered like a beast. Notice how he meets Macduff in Act V scene 8:

Why should I play the Roman fool, and die

On mine own sword? whiles I see lives, the gashes

Do better upon them.

In this quote Macbeth is anything but souless and is definitely not slaughtered. He deliberately rejects the option of killing himself in the Roman fashion, and determines not to go down without a fight.

So, in conclusion, I think we can agree partly with the statement, but not in its entirety. Macbeth is not slaughtered like an animal, but goes down fighting, facing his defeat with courage and bravery. I would also question the extent to which we could call him "souless."

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