Who is Macbeth?


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Macbeth, Thane of Glamis

Macbeth is a general in the king's army and originally the Thane of Glamis. As a reward for his valiant fighting, described in the opening scene, Macbeth is also named the Thane of Cawdor. Appropriately, the former Thane of Cawdor was a traitor to the crown who appeared loyal. At heart, Macbeth does not deserve the adjective "evil." To be sure, he commits regicide and eventually orders the death of women and children alike. But unlike Iago of Othello or Edmund of King Lear, Macbeth is not an explicitly malicious villain. His initial crime is a product of opportunistic prophecies, a weakness of character, his "vaulting ambition," and certainly the influence of Lady Macbeth. Thereafter, he is compelled to commit further crimes in an attempt to cover his tracks and defy the three witches' prophecy. After Duncan's death and the flight of Malcolm and Donalbain, Macbeth reigns as king of Scotland until his death.