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Macbeth - The Dead Butcher and His Fiend-Like Queen

            As is only expected in traditional tragedy, Shakespeare's dark tale Macbeth, concludes with a righteous character, Malcolm, the heir to the Throne of Scotland, commenting on what has passed. He magnanimously invites all present to join him at Scone, the customary venue for coronations in mediaeval Scotland, after insulting Macbeth and his wife as 'this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen'. Macbeth has killed his father, Duncan, and usurped his own position as the monarch in Scotland; Malcolm has every justification to have utter contempt for, and to degrade Macbeth as 'smacking of every sin that has a name'. Indeed, as Hecate points out earlier, he is certainly 'a wayward son', who 'spiteful, and wrathful loves for his own ends', a man capable of propagating a series of crimes so hideous that the Natural Order is inverted. The goodly Duncan and other innocents are murdered so that he can gain safe passage to the throne - and keep it. But this is not all that the play is concerned with. Macbeth's weaknesses as a man are played on by the 'supernatural soliciting' of the three witches, and he falls victim to his wife's coaxing, showing he is more than a brutal murderer. In fact, Lady Macbeth's ultimate demise is also an indication that she is more than purely a 'fiend', a woman driven to desperate measures in a society that privileges her husband. Complex and intriguing, the two protagonists of the play are far more than Malcolm conceives, and the utter desolation they cause is the evidence of this. Despite these facts, Macbeth and his wife cannot rationalise their heinous deeds with any sense of logic.
             Ominously, Shakespeare opens the play in 'thunder and lightning'. The three witches collude to meet with Macbeth 'upon the heath'. Automatically an Elizabethan audience would fear the consequences of this short scene, for nobody should dabble in the supernatural – especially not such a decorated general like Macbeth.

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