Macbeth: themes= loyalty and betrayal

Loyalty shown in country – Macduff is loyal to Scotland. He chooses to go to England and ask Malcolm to defend his country instead of protecting his family- He’d rather leave Scotland the see it ruled by a bad king
Loyalty in the king – Thanes are loyal to Duncan because he’s been a “great king”- Macbeth gives Duncan “service and loyalty” by fighting for him
Loyalty in Banquo – loyal to his own sense of honour- says he will keep his “allegiance clear”- won’t let ambition or the witches prophecies affect him
Betrayal always comes with a punishment. Give examples – Duncan has the old Thane of Cawdor executed for betraying him and rewards Macbeth’s loyalty by giving him the title – Macbeth betrays his own sense of right and wrong. This leads to his death and loss of self worth- power in the form of titles can be given or taken away depending on a person’s loyalty
Macbeth pretended to be loyal – initially loyal to Duncan as his “Kinsman and subject”- makes his betrayal more shocking
Lady Macbeth pretended to be loyal – fakes an appearance of loyalty. She tells Duncan she and Macbeth are “your servants ever” even though they are plotting is murder- Juxtaposition: Lady Macbeth is plotting the murder of Duncan with welcoming him into their castle. Makes the murder more dramatic
“Whole as the marble, founded as the rock…but now I am cabined, cribbed, confined” • First half: how Macbeth used to be. Second half: how he is now• “whole”: suggests he was the complete soldier, and the associations with “marble” and “rock” are strong, unbreakable, natural substances—all the things Macbeth used to be. A traditionally strong male.• “cabined, cribbed, confined”: tricolon of these words suggests a feeling of claustrophobia and restriction, as if Macbeth has no where to hide and is now vulnerable, emphasised by the alliteration.
Look like the innocent flower/But be the serpent under’t” • “innocent flower”: imagery highlighting goodness and the vulnerability of honest human behaviour• juxtaposition: “the serpent under’t”. Biblical reference to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, who helped to bring original sin into the world. • Lady Macbeth would rather act like the devil than as a moral human being—like the witches she sees that fair is foul and four is fair.• “under’t”: implies evil is underneath all our behaviour• relation to gunpowder plot: Guy Falkes planned to kill the king. King James had a medal created picturing a snake hiding amongst flowers to commemorate the discovery of the scheme (both had intention to commit regicide)
“But wherefore could I pronounce Amen? I had most need of blessing, and Amen stuck in my throat?” • his mind is full of uncertainty & doubt; his hesitancy contrasts with Lady M’s active behaviour • repetition of Amen brings religion to audiences attention; • “stuck” in his throat implies Macbeth acted so evilly that religion has turned against him – evil cannot co exist with religion
“There the grown serpent lies: the worm, that’s fled, hath nature that in time venom breed” • Macbeth describes Fleance as a ‘worm’, suggesting something that is small & helpless• However he suggests it will grow into “serpent”, linking back to the original sin of Adam & Eve, & will ‘breed’ poison, emphasising to the audience that the anger & violence in the play will grow & develop even further • “will” confirms that these events are inevitable – evil is unstoppable, & • • ‘will’ lead to poisonous consequences.
“Though you untie the winds and let them fight against the churches” • the churches are a personified symbol of morality & goodness – it would be distressing for the religious audience to see Christianity attacked in this way.• witches have deliberately turned the winds against it with he word • “fight’ linking to the violent conflicts throughout the play.• the fact they ‘untie’ the winds has associations with a great power being unleashed against moral goodness of the Church. Because the wind is attacking ‘against the churches’ it seems as if the Church is passive and vulnerable to evil’s power
“Your wife and babes savagely slaughtered” • juxtaposition of ‘wife & babies’, images of innocence, love & care being • ‘savagely slaughtered’ (the word savage suggesting an almost inhuman behaviour) indicates to the audience the level of violence & evil macbeth now engages in.• sibilance of ‘savagely slaughtered’ adds a swiftness to the sentence, a clear development from the hesitancy he shows before he killed Duncan
“I have no words;/ My voice is in my sword” • Macduff cannot put into words the pain he feels at Macbeths actions, & he acts in the way Lady M suggested me should earlier in the play – with actions not words• his ‘sword’ has become his ‘voice’ in killing macbeth, he says everything he needs to so as to deliver justice & revenge• idea of his voice being ‘in’ his sword suggest the sword is more than just a physical weapon – it contains all of the anger & hatred of Macbeth’s victims adding to it strength