Macbeth Themes - Loyalty and Betrayal

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  • Loyalty and Betrayal
    • At the very start of the play, Macbeth is presented as being loyal to King Duncan as he says "The service and the loyalty I owe in doing it, pays itself" although he is actually betraying Duncan by planning to kill him when he says "why do I yield to that suggestion, whose horrid image doth unfix my hair?"
    • Macduff is shown to be loyal to his country when he says to Malcolm "Let us rather hold  fast the mortal sword, and like good men bestride our down-fall'n birthdom"
    • Despite being suspicious of Macbeth, which is suggested by "I fear thou play'dst most foully for it", Banquo still remains a loyal friend to Macbeth (e.g. "Ay, my good lord")
    • Macduff realises straight away that Duncan's murder is an act of betrayal when he says "Awake! Awake! Ring the alarum bell! Murder and treason!"
    • Throughout the play, Macbeth trusts the witches the most but realises at the end that he has been deceived by them when he says "Be these juggling fiends no more believed, that palter with us in a double sense"
    • The Witches saying "Fair is foul and foul is fair" could imply that those who seem loyal are treacherous (e.g. Macbeth) and those who known as traitors are actually loyal (e.g. Macduff)
    • Lady Macduff thinks that her husband is a "traitor" and says "To leave his wife, to leave his babes, his mansion and his titles in a place from whence himself does fly?", suggesting that Macduff is more loyal to his country than his family
    • Duncan is betrayed by the previous Thane of Cawdor, which is suggested by "Norway himself, with terrible numbers, assisted by that most disloyal traitor, the Thane of Cawdor" which foreshadows what Macbeth will do


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