Describe a battle speech that one of the characters might have given in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are two obvious times when a battle speech might be given by one of the characters in Macbeth by William Shakespeare. The first is in Act I when Macbeth is leading the king's troops into battle against the Scottish rebels and others. Unfortunately, that scene is not presented on stage. 

Like so many of the battle scenes in Shakespeare's plays, this one is would be difficult to stage because of the logistics of the Globe's small stage. Instead, a messenger reports the actions and results of the battle back to the king (as well as the audience). Because of this, Macbeth's delivery of an inspiring battle speech at this moment is not workable.

The other obvious time is more workable. In Act V scene v, Macduff and Malcolm along with the Siward's English troops have gathered on Dunsinane Hill, ready to approach Macbeth's castle. The Scottish king has not seem them because all the men have placed tree boughs in front of themselves, and instead of a moving army they look like an eerily moving forest. 

All three of the leaders I mentioned do give a short speech in this scene right before they storm the castle and defeat Macbeth. It appears that the men are eager enough to wage this battle without any serious urging, but of course Malcolm, as heir to the throne and avenger of his father's death, could have given a rousing battle speech here. 

It's clear that your teacher expects you to write your own speech, so I will give you some highlights that should probably be included. Since the goal is to move the men to fight, similar to a pre-game speech by a coach, here is a list of all the reasons the men should fight:

  • Macbeth is murdered Dincan, the true and beloved king of Scotland. 
  • Macbeth befan his treachery by blaming Duncan's sons for his murder, a deed he committed.
  • Macbeth has been responsible for many murders since then, including his best friend and Macduff's family, simply because he has become a paranoid monster.
  • Averyone in Scotland is afraid and miserable because of the "untitled tyrant bloody-scepter'd" who sits on the throne.
  • This army is Scotland's last hope, and they have to kill the tyrant before he murders any more citizens.
  • The country is miserable and living in fear, but that can all change today.

The language should be persuasive and strong, so use words and phrases which will inspire them. Using the pronoun "we" is also inspiring, as it suggests that the leaders are planning to fight alongside the soldiers. Tell the men the truth, but certainly say it in such a way that paints Macbeth as the bloody tyrant he is and suggests that what they are about to do is heroic and patriotic. They already know most of this, but it never hurts to remind them of the grand task and glory that awaits them.

Let's face it, whatever you write will be more inspirational than Macduff's final words to the troops before they attack:

Make all our trumpets speak; give them all breath,
Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death.

For more insights and analysis of this classic Shakespeare play, as well as his other plays and Shakespeare himself, visit the excellent eNotes sites linked below. 

Sources:

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