Who is the traitor that Duncan executed in Macbeth?  Who was Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor before Macbeth?

3 Answers

dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Shakespeare's Macbeth, three rebels lead the revolt against King Duncan. 

  1. Macdonwald is a powerful opponent and for a while he appears to be winning his portion of the battle, but Macbeth saves the day for Duncan's forces when he "...unseamed him from the nave to th' chops,/And fixed his head upon our battlements" (1:2), according to the "bloody man" who reports about the battle to Duncan.
  2. The King of Norway joins the battle when he sees an opportunity, but is defeated and forced to pay "Ten thousand dollars" to attain peace and be allowed to bury his slain men.
  3. The Thane of Cawdor assists the king of Norway, and is defeated when Norway is.  He is executed on Duncan's order and his title, Cawdor, is given to Macbeth.         

These are the three rebels of Act I. 



pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Macbeth is the Thane of Glamis at the start of the play.  We have no idea who held this title before he did.

The Thane of Cawdor was leading another group of troops against King Duncan.  When Duncan is told of this, he has the Thane of Cawdor executed.  There were three leaders who were fighting against Duncan.  Cawdor was one of them, Macdonald was another.

So the traitor that the king executes is the previous Thane of Cawdor.  After he is executed, his title is given to Macbeth as a reward for how well he did in battle.

saadmalikrox's profile pic

saadmalikrox | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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before macbeth the thane of glamis was his father. the thane of cawdor ws someone who is named in the book.