Act I – Scene.ii
Scotland’s King Duncan is involved in a war against his
own rebellious subjects, and also King Sweno of Norway.
This scene gives details of how the battles are progressing, and the King receives three messages during this scene. Firstly, the brave Macbeth has killed the villainous rebel Macdonald, the second report gives details of Macbeth’s action against the Norwegians, and the third deals with the traitor, the Thane of Cawdor.
Macbeth has led Scotland to victory, causing the Norwegian King to
surrender, and the capture of Cawdor who is executed by King Duncan, who then passes the title to Macbeth.
It is clear from this early scene that Macbeth is the
hero of the war bringing Scotland a comprehensive victory through his own courage and determination.
King Duncan’s captain describes the battle between the two armies like that
of two drowning men who cling together, but are unable to gain an advantage until Macbeth comes on the scene and tips the balance in favor of Scotland.
The audience has not yet seen the warrior hero Macbeth, but is already
excited by the reports of his victories.
This is highlighted with phrases such as “velour’s minion” and “Bellona’s bridegroom”, which means the servant of courage, and the husband of war. The captain provides a very descriptive account of Macbeth’s fight with Macdonald, saying “He unseamed him from nave to the chops. And fixed his head upon the battlements”.
This will have an ironic twist towards the end of the play.
The captain’s report also pays tribute to Macbeth’s fellow captain, Banquo,
and the pair is described as “eagles and lions pursuing the timid Norwegians, who were like sparrows and hares”.
Clearly Macbeth’s actions have brought Scotland victory.
He is Scotland’s champion and savior.
The King is established as a true figurehead of the country, but is not
involved in the battle itself. He pays tribute to Macbeth by saying “What he (Thane of Cawdor) hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won”.