What is the significance of Act 1, Scene 2 in Macbeth?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In Act 1, Scene 2 of Macbeth, there is an example of the type of man King Duncan is. Also, there is a look at Macbeth's character as a soldier.

King Duncan is in high praise of Macbeth. When the sergeant shares Macbeth's bravery and skillful war-fare skills, King Duncan not only verbally praises Macbeth, but he grants him a position of honor as Thane of Cawdor.

King Duncan is a good man. He is a fair man. It is evident that he treats his soldiers well if they are worthy. Likewise, he punishes the present Thane of Cawdor for his betrayal:

No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive
Our bosom interest. Go pronounce his present death,(75)
And with his former title greet Macbeth.

Truly, we see into the character of King Duncan as he bestows honor on Macbeth for a job well done.

Also, in Act 1, Scene 2, we see what a great warrior Macbeth is. He is fierce on the battlefield. He is competent, skillful. Likewise, he seems to be in honor of King Duncan as he does his job. Clearly, Macbeth's character is puzzling. How he could turn into such a blood thirsty tyrant is a mystery.

In Act 1, Scene 5, even Lady Macbeth claims that her husband has too much goodness in him to follow through with the murder of King Duncan:

Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness

No doubt, Act 1, Scene 2 is an example of Macbeth as a great soldier, one worthy to be named Thane of Cawdor. The sergeant has nothing but high praise for Macbeth in this scene.

This scene shows that a man can fall even if he is a great warrior and strong, skillful soldier.

In his presentation of the title Thane of Cawdor, King Duncan thinks Macbeth is noble:

What the traitor has lost, noble Macbeth has won.

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