What is the theme of "Macbeth" in Act 1 scene 2?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Act I, scene ii, of Macbeth takes place near a battlefield.  King Duncan is hearing reports about what has happened, and mostly hearing about the great success of his general, Macbeth.  The captain who has come to report is crediting Scotland's win to Macbeth and Banquo, but even more specifically to Macbeth, who was a force of power on the battlefield, saying he "memorized another Golgotha":

Sergeant: ...so they
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe:
Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds,
Or memorise another Golgotha, (I.ii)

This is a biblical reference which means he made the battlefield bloody from the enemy soldiers.  The group assembled also discusses the traitor, the Thane of Cawdor, and Duncan orders this man's immediate execution.

There are a few themes underlying the speeches in this passage.  Based on the battlefield description, the idea of power, both in physical strength and in determination, is both important to reach a goal and capable of great damage.  Also, the reference to the Thane of Cawdor, brings up the theme of loyalty and trust.  This was supposed to be a loyal servant to the king, and his execution for treason has just been ordered - can we trust anyone?  Is anyone loyal?  It would seem at this point that Macbeth is, but appearances can be deceiving.

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