How does Duncan reward Macbeth for his bravery in defeating the rebels? Comment on the order in which Duncan announces this and Macbeth finds it out.

Duncan rewards Macbeth for his bravery by declaring that the title of Thane of Cawdor will be given to Macbeth. This happens in act 1, scene 2, but Macbeth does not learn of this from Ross until act 1, scene 3, after the Weird Sisters have greeted him as the Thane of Cawdor. This makes it seem to him that the witches correctly predicted the future, and this earns them Macbeth's trust.

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In scene 2 of the play, the Captain and Ross recall Macbeth's courage on the battlefield against the rebel Macdonwald, the Norwegian king Sweno, and the Thane of Cawdor, who was a traitor assisting the rebel forces. According to their eyewitness accounts, Macbeth fought fiercely against the rebels and managed to defeat them against all odds. King Duncan is impressed by the accounts of Macbeth's performance and rewards Macbeth by giving him the title Thane of Cawdor. King Duncan instructs Ross to deliver the message and states, "What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won" (1.2).

In the next scene, Macbeth and Banquo interact with the Three Witches, who offer them seemingly favorable prophecies. The witches address Macbeth as Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and future King of Scotland. They also inform Banquo that his descendants will become kings before disappearing.

Moments after the witches disappear, Ross and Angus arrive on the scene to deliver the king's message. Ross informs Macbeth that he has been given the title Thane of Cawdor. Upon receiving the message, Macbeth recognizes that the witches' prophecy was confirmed and begins entertaining the idea of murdering the king to attain the throne. Shortly after being named Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth informs his wife of the good news and the witches' prophecy. Lady Macbeth immediately begins plotting King Duncan's assassination and eventually convinces Macbeth to commit regicide.

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Duncan rewards Macbeth for his bravery in defeating the rebels by ordering the execution of the traitorous Thane of Cawdor and awarding that title to Macbeth, in addition to the title he already has, the Thane of Glamis. Duncan makes this decision in act 1, scene 2, telling the Thane of Ross to go carry out the execution and then "greet Macbeth" with the "former title" of the old Thane of Cawdor (1.2.73–76).

It is significant that Duncan awards Macbeth this new title but that Macbeth does not know it yet. In the very next scene, the three Weird Sisters meet Macbeth and Banquo on the road as they journey back from their battle to their king. They greet him as the Thane of Glamis and the Thane of Cawdor, but he says that the "Thane of Cawdor lives / A prosperous gentleman" (1.3.75–76). He does not know that the Thane's fate and that Duncan has already named Macbeth the new Thane of Cawdor; therefore, when Ross and Angus tell Macbeth of this news, it seems as though the Weird Sisters have predicted the future, when all they have really done is tell Macbeth something factual that he did not yet know.

This seems to compel Macbeth to believe the Weird Sisters' apparent prediction that he will, one day, become king (and that Banquo will father kings). He even asks Banquo if his friend hopes his "children shall be kings, / When those that gave the Thane of Cawdor to [Macbeth] / Promised no less to them" (1.3.129–131).

The order of events, then, is extremely important, because it is the...

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seeming accuracy of the Weird Sisters "prediction" about Macbeth becoming Thane of Cawdor that compels him to believe they are correct about everything else, too. And this belief fuels his future actions.

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At the end of act 1, scene 2, after listening to eyewitness accounts of Macbeth's bravery, Duncan decides to make Macbeth the new thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is not present in this scene, so Duncan tells Ross to deliver the good news:

Go pronounce his present death,

And with his former title greet Macbeth.

In the next scene, Macbeth and Banquo meet with the witches. Take a look at how the second witch greets Macbeth:

All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

What is interesting about this greeting is that Macbeth finds out he is thane of Cawdor before he has received the official news from Ross. Duncan has only just made the decision, but the witches already know about it.

Macbeth is skeptical about what the witches tell him, but at the end of this scene, he receives the news from Ross, confirming that he really is the new thane of Cawdor.

By putting the events into this order, Shakespeare adds a supernatural element to this scene because it seems the witches are capable of knowing the future. For Macbeth specifically, hearing the news from Ross validates the prophecies, making him believe everything the witches have said to him will come true.

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In Act One, Scene 2, King Duncan learns about Macbeth's exploits on the battlefield and is impressed with his bravery and skill. After Ross tells Duncan about the Thane of Cawdor's betrayal, Duncan instructs Ross to give the title of Thane of Cawdor to Macbeth. In Act One, Scene 3, Ross delivers the king's message to Macbeth, who is surprised and shocked that the witches' prophecy is accurate. However, Macbeth immediately begins to think about how he will become king after hearing that he is now the Thane of Cawdor. In Act One, Scene 4, Macbeth meets Duncan face to face and has the opportunity to thank Duncan for giving him the new title of Thane of Cawdor. In Act Two, Scene 1, Banquo greets Macbeth and mentions that King Duncan has been unusually hospitable. Banquo then tells Macbeth that Duncan has given his household and servants many gifts. King Duncan also gives Lady Macbeth a diamond to demonstrate his appreciation for Macbeth's valiant performance in battle.

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Duncan rewards Macbeth with the title of the Thane of Cawdor, and all land that comes with it. He also says that Macbeth will rise to new levels of power and glory, saying “I have begun to plant thee, and will labor to make thee full of growing.”

Macbeth (and Banquo) hears this prophecy first from the wyrd sisters, when they hail him as Thane of Cawdor. This prophecy is soon fullfilled when the current thane is proven to be traitor and executed, with Macbeth claiming the title from Duncan.

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King Duncan rewards Macbeth's bravery with a promotion.

In Act I scene ii, a "bloody sergeant" tells King Duncan that Macbeth bravely slew Macdonwald, the leader of the rebels, by slicing him from navel to chin and beheading him: "Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps, / And fix'd his head upon our battlements." Unseamed means cut open; from the nave to the chaps means from the navel to the chin; fixed his head means stuck his head; upon our battlements means on our fort's wall.

Later in the same scene, the Thane of Ross shows up and informs the king that the Thane of Cawdor is a traitor and was helping the rebels: "Assisted by that most disloyal traitor / The Thane of Cawdor...." The scene concludes with Duncan telling Ross to execute the traitor and give his title, Thane of Cawdor, to Macbeth.

This is how Macbeth realizes that the three witches' prophesy is true and later decides to kill the king. In Act I scene iii, The three witches meet Macbeth and Banquo on the battlefield and tell Macbeth that he will be Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland:

FIRST WITCH: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!

SECOND WITCH: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!

THIRD WITCH: All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter!

Macbeth is currently the Thane of Glamis, but he does not believe he will become Thane of Cawdor and then king: " be King / Stands not within the prospect of belief, / No more than to be Cawdor" until he is informed that he has been promoted to Thane of Cawdor. In a way and without knowing it, by promoting Macbeth King Duncan has started the chain of events that will lead to his own death.

These quotes were taken from eNotes' text on Macbeth, which you can read here. The eNotes text has a modern English translation and annotations to make it easier to understand. 

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