Macbeth Act 3 Literary Devices

Allusion Definition: an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.Line: (Act 3, scene 1) “My genius is rebuked, as it is said Mark Antony’s was by Caesar.”Meaning: An allusion is made to the second triumvirate of Rome, which consisted of Caesar Augustus, Markus Lepidus and Mark Antony. The point in time that is particularly referenced is when Caesar Augustus is proven to be a superior leader during the Battle of Actium. During this confrontation Mark Antony is forced to retreat to Egypt, where he eventually commits suicide. Therefore the line is meant to imply that Macbeth believes he will be outsmarted by Banquo and forced out of power as Mark Antony was.
Imagery Definition: visually descriptive or figurative language.Line: (Act 3, scene 2) “O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!”Meaning: This line is an indication of the conflict occurring within Macbeth as ha becomes increasingly fearful of what might happen to him as King. So long as Banquo and Fleance are alive, Macbeth will continue to believe that there is a threat to his power. Therefore, the image created by this statement can be likened to a jumbling of thoughts, or anxious state of mind as a result of the “scorpions.”
Simile Definition: a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, using the words like or as. Line: (Act 3, scene 4) “I had else been perfect,Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,As broad and general as the casing air.”Meaning: Macbeth is willing to give up a lot for his own safety. After all, he sent murderers to kill Banquo, his own friend. The result of this choice is a sense of peace that comes from the thought that no threat to his [Macbeth] power remains. Once convinced that there is nothing to fear, Macbeth gains confidence and strength. He begins to believe he is unmovable as solid rock and that no one can remove him from the throne.
Simile Definition: a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, using the words like or as. Line: (Act 3, scene 4) “Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,The armed rhinoceros, or th’ Hyrcan tiger.”Meaning: In this aspect of the scene Macbeth is challenging Banquo’s ghost to a duel. He is demanding that Banquo faces him like a man, in a test of will, rather than haunt him as a ghost. In the present circumstances, Macbeth feels uncomfortable due to the guilt he is forced to endure as Banquo’s ghost watches in what is perceived to be an accusing manner. It is understood that it would be far easier for Macbeth to simply eliminate the guilt by show of strength rather than face it.

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