Exam Study Guide part III: Macbeth

Macbeth Macbeth is a Scottish general and the thane of Glamis who is led to wicked thoughts by the prophecies of the three witches, especially after their prophecy that he will be made thane of Cawdor comes true. He is easily tempted into murder to fulfill his ambitions to the throne, and once he commits his first crime and is crowned King of Scotland, he embarks on further atrocities with increasing ease.
Lady Macbeth Macbeth’s wife, a deeply ambitious woman who lusts for power and position. Early in the play she seems to be the stronger and more ruthless of the two, as she urges her husband to kill Duncan and seize the crown. After the bloodshed begins, however, Lady Macbeth falls victim to guilt and madness to an even greater degree than her husband. Her conscience affects her to such an extent that she eventually commits suicide. Interestingly, she and Macbeth are presented as being deeply in love, and many of Lady Macbeth’s speeches imply that her influence over her husband is primarily sexual. Their joint alienation from the world, occasioned by their partnership in crime, seems to strengthen the attachment that they feel to each another.
Three Witches Three “black and midnight hags” who plot mischief against Macbeth using charms, spells, and prophecies. Their predictions prompt him to murder Duncan, to order the deaths of Banquo and his son, and to blindly believe in his own immortality. The play leaves the witches’ true identity unclear—aside from the fact that they are servants of Hecate, we know little about their place in the cosmos. In some ways they resemble the mythological Fates, who impersonally weave the threads of human destiny. They clearly take a perverse delight in using their knowledge of the future to toy with and destroy human beings.
“Fair is foul and foul is fair.” Act 1, Scene 1, Line 10: The witches in conversationparadox
“False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” Act 1, Scene 8, Line 82: Macbeth to his wifedeception
“Is this a dagger I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight, or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 33-39: Macbeth to himselfsoliloquyhallucination
“Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep!” Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 34-5: imaginary voice to Macbethguilt
“Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One: two: why, then ’tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, Fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who Knows it, when none can call our power accompt? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” Act 5, Scene 1, Lines 34-39: Lady Macbeth to herself while sleepwalkingguilt
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” Act 5, Scene 5, Lines 19-28: Macbeth to himself
“Look like the innocent flower,But be the serpent under it.” Lady Macbeth
If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me Macbethirony
Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts! unsex me here, Lady Macbethhistorically important
The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me In borrow’d robes? Macbeth to servantthe clothes don’t fit meaning Macbeth is not fit to be kingclothing motif
“here’s our chief guest” Macbeth to people about banquoirony
It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood blood motif What Macbeth is saying in this quote is that his killing may become a habit and his guilt will not all of a sudden come to a stop.
“Come, you spirits of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood.” This quote, said by Lady Macbeth, is showing that she wishes she could be a man so she could murder Duncan herself (showing male superiority) and not be a guilt-filled woman. She also says this to convince Macbeth that she could be manlier than he is.
“and oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths.” Banquo to Macbeth about the witches sometimes there is evil out there that tells us half-truths in order to get us to commit an even bigger evil or crime.
“I would, while it was smiling in my face” lady Macbeth to Macbethshe tells Macbeth that she would kill her own child if he asked her to, because she is that loyal to him.
Though his bark cannot be lost, yet it shall be tempest tossed. the witches to the audienceThe witches can cause a storm and gnaw a hole in the side of the ship, but it is not in their power to destroy the ship completely.
Whence is that knocking? How is’t with me, when every noise appals me? What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes. Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red.” Macbeth to himselffeeling guilty for killing Duncan. He’s got blood on his hands, and he’s afraid it will never come off because he will always remember what he’s done. hand and blood motif
“where we are there are daggers in man’s smiles” Duncan’s sonsIt means that there is a level of subterfuge going on. People are playing nice and smiling while planning bloody things. “the near in blood” – someone close to the event “the nearer bloody” – is most likely responsible
You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting,With most admired disorder lady Macbeth to MacbethMacbeth begins to images of Banquo’s ghost everywhere. It is Lady Macbeth who maintains a sense of order in the situation. She admonishes her husband’s behavior, goes on to excuse her husband’s apparent illness and then sends the guest away
Lest our old robes sit easier than our new! Macduff to RossThe “old robes” were the royal garments of King Duncan; the new robes will be Macbeth’s. The metaphor implies that Macbeth may not know how to wear his new robes.clothing motif
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt beWhat thou art promis’d. Yet do I fear thy nature,It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindnessTo catch the nearest way. Lady Macbeth to MacbethLady Macbeth is ambitious, and fears that her milky husband lacks the mettle to grab the Scottish crown in the most expeditious manner. “The nearest way,” as she sees it, is to murder King Duncan.

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