Berger, Harry Jr. "The Early Scenes of Macbeth:
Preface to a New Interpretation." ELH 47 (1980): 1-31.
Thesis: Berger wants to show that something is rotten in the state of Scotland, even before Macbeth murders King Duncan; he writes, "I think Shakespeare is centrally interested . . . in dramatizing failures or evasions of responsibility correlated with problematic structural tendencies that seem benign because it is the interest of self-deceiving characters to view them that way" (3). Here is Berger's first supporting paragraph:
Symptoms of these tendencies appear in the first Scottish scene, 1.2, a scene which anyone who thinks there is unity and harmony in the state of Scotland had better look at again: Macdonwald rebels against Duncan assisted by Irish "Kernes and Gallowglasses," and after Macbeth defeats him and fixes his head on the battlements, Sweno the Norwegian king attacks the Scots. After hearing that Macbeth and Banquo beat him back we learn that he was helped by "that most disloyal traitor, / The Thane of Cawdor." By the middle of 1.4 the Scottish king has run into two rebels, a foreign foe, and budding regicide. These facts have to be set against the persistent praise of Duncan as an ideal king, the head of a harmonious state . . . . But we need not jump immediately to the conclusion that this disorder reflects on Duncan; that possibility will be explored later. On the other hand, it may throw an interesting light on the events of the final act. Macduff's killing of Macbeth recalls Macbeth's victory over Macdonwald: Macbeth also has Kernes fighting for him, and his head, Macduff threatens, will end up on a pole, if not on battlements. This may be viewed as poetic justice, the wheel come full circle. But it may also be simple recurrence, more of the same. In killing Macbeth, Macduff steps into his role. Will he become Malcolm's Macbeth? And in killing Macbeth he has killed not merely a tyrant but a properly appointed king, "nam'd" and "invested" at Scone (2.4.31); Malcolm's final reference to being "crown'd at Scone" may remind us that while Macbeth was a regicide he was not a usurper (which Macduff, at 5.9.21, wrongly calls him), and this means that Macduff is also a regicide. If Macbeth feels his title. "hang loose about him," as Angus puts it (5.3.20), "like a giant's robe / Upon a dwarfish thief," it is still rightly his title; having killed the king he did not have to steal or usurp the throne because the flight of the king's sons, and their suspicious behavior, left him the next in line. Thus in purely political terms, Malcolm's leading the English army to Dunsinane is no less disloyal to the Scottish throne than Cawdor's treacherous assistance to Norway. Finally, it appears in Act 5 that everyone revolts from Macbeth because of his cruel tyranny; yet there is only a difference of degree between this and the difficulties which the good king Duncan faced. I conclude from these observations that there is something rotten inScotland—that something intrinsic to the structure of Scottish society, something deeper than the melodramatic wickedness of one or two individuals, generates these tendencies toward instability, conflict, sedition, and murder. If this is so, it is not something the characters of the play—especially the good characters, that is, everyone except the Macbeths—seem aware of. Is it, however, something which goes on in spite of them or is it something to which they lend tacit support? Before dealing with so complex a question, it might be helpful to offer clues as to what this "something" is.  (5)

Evaluation: Notice Berger's super-legalistic argument that even though Macbeth killed King Duncan and took his throne, Macbeth isn't really an "usurper." And notice the difference between the good King Duncan and the brutal tyrant Macbeth becomes "only a difference of degree."

Bottom Line: Berger grasps at straws.