What two enemies does the kingdom of Scotland face? How are they overcome?

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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In act 1 of Macbeth, the Scottish forces are at war with Norway. Macbeth and Banquo are both military leaders who contribute to the victory over Norway. Macbeth is even awarded with a new title—Thane of Cawdor—in recognition of his service. The former Thane of Cawdor, MacDonwald, has betrayed King Duncan of Scotland by fighting with Norway. Therefore, in the first Act of the play, Scotland faces enemies in Norway and in the treacherous MacDonwald. 

Later in the play, once Macbeth is King of Scotland after murdering Duncan, the rightful heir and Duncan's eldest son Malcolm has fled to England in fear for his life. He is supported by the King of England and later Macduff, another high-ranking Scottish thane, joins him there. They recognize that Macbeth is a terrible, corrupt, and tyrannical king, so they plot to attack Scotland. They want to oust Macbeth from the throne and place Malcolm as king. In this case, Scotland is being attacked by England, but because Macbeth is a tyrant, the readers hope that England wins the battle. In fact, they do, and Macduff beheads Macbeth, vowing to let his severed head stand as a reminder of what happens to tyrants in Scotland. The play closes in the hopes that Malcolm's reign will restore peace and justice to Scotland. 

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Macbeth, the kingdom of Scotland faces two enemies. First of all, it faces the combined force of Macdonwald, the thane of Cawdor, and the army of Norway. Together, these forces hope to defeat King Duncan and remove him from the throne. However, as we see in act 1, scene 2, they are no match for "brave" Macbeth and Banquo, who demonstrate great skill in battle. Macbeth, for example, kills Macdonwald by cutting him from the "nave" to the "chops."

Secondly, the kingdom also faces an enemy in the form of Macbeth himself. After killing Duncan and taking the throne for himself, Macbeth becomes a violent and tyrannical king. He is so focused on protecting his crown that he kills Banquo and Macduff's family, for example. Therefore, in act 5, a force led by Malcolm (the true heir of Scotland) storms Macbeth's castle. In act 5, scene 8, Macbeth is beheaded by Macdff and his death restores peace and order to Scotland.

luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the play, the enemies are Norway and traitors and rebels within Scotland itself.  In Act 1, sc. 2, we hear of how Macbeth was victorious in battle against Norway, against the rebel Macdonwald, and against the traitor, the Thane of Cawdor.  The Thane of Cawdor had aligned himself with Norway in trying to defeat Duncan's forces.  By Act 5, Macbeth's enemies are most of the people of Scotland.  Malcolm, having fled to England when his father was killed, has gathered English forces to back him in his efforts to unseat Macbeth.  Macduff has joined with Malcolm in the attempt.  In Act 4, sc. 3, Macduff tells Malcolm how bad things are in Scotland under Macbeth's rule. Most of Macbeth's Thanes have left him and he is nearly on his own by the end of the play.

kc4u | Student

As the bleeding sergeant reports in act1 sc.2, the two enemies that Duncan's Scotland had to face were 'the merciless Macdonwald', the rebel from the Western Isles, and the king of Norway who got the support of the traitorous Thane of Cawdor.

Macdonwald was cruel and villainous, and he enjoyed the illegitimate indulgence of Fortune until Macbeth appeared on the scene of battle. Macbeth 'unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps/And fix'd his head upon our battlements'.

Norway and Cawdor 'began a dismal conflict', and it was the noble and heroic Macbeth again who overcame the offensive.Clad in armour and proof against sword/spear, he confronted the enemies, 'Point against point rebellious, arm against arm' to register the victory of Scotland.

However, Macbeth usurped the throne of Scotland by killing the good old king, Duncan; he then embarked on a bloody career to go on killing people. Ironically though, the king of Scotland himself turned out to be the greatest enemy of Scotland. He was overcome by an English army led by Malcolm and Macduff. Macduff beheaded Macbeth, and that led to the coronation of Malcolm.