Macbeth As a Dead Butcher
After Macduff has murdered Macbeth, Malcolm remarks that Macbeth is a
'dead butcher'. To find out if Macbeth is a dead butcher, the events
of the play must be reviewed.
The Collins English dictionary defines butcher as-
Butcher; A person who kills needlessly, showing no remorse.
At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed as a hero, 'good
and hardy soldier', with his associates describing him as 'loyal',
'valiant' and 'brave'. He is also trusted to a great extent by Duncan,
who expresses this by calling him 'worthy' and 'noble'.
Macbeth has just returned from battle, and the captain has informed
Duncan that Macbeth's sword 'smokes with bloody execution'. This is
ominous; Macbeth is already being connected with death, and murder.
When Macbeth meets with the witches for the first time, they proclaim
that he will be 'Thane of Glamis', 'Thane of Cawdor', and 'king
hereafter'. This makes the scene more dramatic for the audience, as
they already know that Duncan has just told Rosse to have the old
Thane of Cawdor executed, and to give Macbeth the 'title' Thane of
Macbeth reacts fearfully to these prophecies, and asks them to
"Speak if you can, what are you?"
Banquo picks up on the fact that Macbeth is afraid, and asks him why
he 'seems to fear' thing that sound so 'fair'. Macbeth does not reply,
but seems insecure when he demands that the witches tell him 'more',
and asks them why they have appeared by him to tell him prophesies.
After Angus and Rosse have informed Macbeth that he is to given the
title Thane of Cawdor, his personality gradually starts to change.
He says to Banquo that thoughts of 'fantastical' murder keep coming
into his head, and that this is worrying him, but everything else is
'smothered', apart from the thought of being King. This is the first
sign that Macbeth shows of actual ambition in the play.
When Macbeth arrives for dinner at the palace, Duncan surprises
Macbeth by announcing that Malcolm will be his heir. Macbeth muses to
himself that he will either have to leave this chance of becoming
king, or somehow sidestep it, as Malcolm 'lies' in his way. He is
cross that Duncan chose Malcolm over himself, and says that he does
not want light to see his 'black and deep desires'.
He is already contemplating Duncans murder; he has assumed that
becoming king will not come around naturally, but that he must do
something to get this chance. These 'horrible imaginings' are
frightening him, at this point in the play he is not a dead butcher,
he is still only vaguely thinking about the murder of Duncan.
Macbeth sends a letter to his wife, Lady Macbeth, telling her that the
witches hailed him 'Thane of Cawdor', and king 'hereafter'. Lady
Macbeth is anxious that Macbeth is to...