In Macbeth, what is Macbeth like at the beginning of the play?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed as a valiant, loyal soldier, who courageously risks his life on the battlefield to lead Scotland's troops to victory. In act 1, scene 2, the Captain elaborates on Macbeth's fearless performance in battle by saying,

"But all’s too weak, For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, Which smoked with bloody execution, Like valor’s minion carved out his passage Till he faced the slave; Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, Till he unseamed him from the nave to th' chops, And fixed his head upon our battlements." (1.2.15-23)

King Duncan is impressed with Macbeth and refers to him as a "valiant cousin" and "worthy gentleman." Ross then enters the scene and gives King Duncan an account of how Macbeth defeated the King of Norway and the former Thane of Cawdor. However, Macbeth's ambition is revealed after hearing the prophecies and learning that King Duncan has given him the title...

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