Macbeth Act IV

“Each new morn new widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows strike heaven on the face, that it resounds as if it felt with Scotland, and yelled out like syllable of dolor.” Speaker: Macduff Situation: Macduff and Malcolm are talking about how Scotland seems to be now Significance: This quotation is saying how in Scotland, it is only pain. Everyone is crying about a new tragedy, such as death, everyday, thus causing everyone to become used to the pain. Macbeth is a bad ruler and is causing Scotland great pain.
“Let’s make us med’cines of our great revenge to cure this deadly grief.” Speaker: Malcolm Situation: Macduff was just told that his wife, children, and servants were all killed. Malcolm, is trying to “console” Macduff after he is told. Significance: Malcolm does not like Macbeth at all; He thinks Macbeth is a terrible ruler and king. While Macduff’s mind is raw from the tragic news, Malcolm intercepts the processing of information to try to make Macduff act vengeful towards Macbeth. If Macduff listens, it will help Malcolm’s case of not liking Macbeth and later on help with the building of an army against Macbeth. -Turn grief into anger
“He has no children. All my pretty ones? Did you say ‘all’? O hell-kite!” Macduff, (IV.III.255-256)Situation: Just after Ross has told Macduff that his entire family has been slaughtered and Macduff is coming out of shockSignificance: This quote has kind of like a triple (WOW, POWER OF THREE?!) meaning. It may be talking about how because Macbeth has no children, he is cruel. Macduff may mean himself in that he no longer has any children, especially because later on in the scene he again talks about himself in the third person. It may also signify literally that Macbeth has no children.
“And what will you do now? How will you live?” “As birds do, mother.” Lady Macduff and her Son, (IV.II.36-37)Situation: Lady Macduff is trying to tell her son that Macduff is dead after he has left his family vulnerable in a difficult timeSignificance: Lady Macduff knows that her husband is not physically dead, but she wants her son to believe that he is because he is basically dead to them. She is outraged that he left his family so vulnerable and alone in a dangerous time. This also continues the motif of birds, which is a Bible reference to the book of Matthew. It really means that the son will be fine and he’ll get along since he doesn’t believe he needs a father to be successful in life.
“Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.” Third Apparition, (IV.I.105-107)Situation: Macbeth is appealing to the Witches in the hopes of learning more good things about his future, who show him prophecies in the forms of apparitionsSignificance: The third prophecy is a little more complex in that it could just mean that Macbeth will not be overthrown or destroyed until the forest reaches the hill. This would actually be a long time, since trees need years to grow and expand along landscapes. It gives Macbeth a false sense of security (hubris?) because he believes he is safe from attack and revolt. The safer Macbeth feels → the more vulnerable he actually is
“O, I could play the woman with mine eyes and braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens, cut short all intermission!” Speaker: MacduffSituation: After finding out his family has been murdered Macduff’s sadness turns into anger. Significance: This quote shows the difference between how men and women are viewed. Women cry and take their time to grief and talk about how they feel, while men are known for taking action and expressing their emotions through violence. Macduff’s feelings are shown here. At first Macduff was shocked and we couldn’t tell how he felt but now he it is clear that he is filled with rage. Plays into what Malcolm was trying to do earlier (convince Macduff to channel his grief into anger), so essentially, Malcolm wins! In this quotation he prays he can stop thought and turn it into immediate action against Macbeth.
“Dispute it like a man” Speaker: MalcolmSituation: Macduff has just found out about the death of his familySignificance: Showing significance of gender. How a man’s role is more important in these situations than a women. Plays off of Lady Macbeth’s views that to be unmanly is to be a coward.
“Alas, poor country, almost afraid to know itself. It cannot be called our mother, but our grave, where nothing But who knows nothing is once seen to smile.” Speaker: RossSituation: Ross comes to England to give news to Macduff that his whole family was slaughtered by murderers that were sent by Macbeth. Significance: This quote is significant because Ross telling Macduff that Macbeth on top of killing Banquo and Duncan, has killed his entire family, only adds fuel to the fire in the desire take the current monarch out of power. It also adds on to the idea of how the characters in the book portray death as a comfort and almost as a luxury of not having to deal with the tangible world. It also shows how loyal Ross is to his country, referring to it as his “motherland.”
“Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff! Beware the Thane of Fife! Dismiss me. Enough!” Speaker: First ApparitionSituation: The First Apparition is essentially telling Macbeth to be wary of Macduff. Since he just saw an armed head, it implies that he’ll most likely encounter the Thane of Fife in battle or war eventually. Significance: This is a significant quote because Macbeth doesn’t really decipher the vision correctly,mainly as he sees the next two apparitions, which boosts his ego and gives him a false sense of security. As the witches previously say, his false sense of security will make him most vulnerable. Even though Macbeth doesn’t realize it, this vision foreshadows the future encounter he will have with Macduff. It also reinforces the Rule of 3. Parallel to how Banquo (who was close to Macbeth) was also a threat. MB feels he has to play a hand in fate to get what he wants now
“Then live, Macduff; what need I fear of thee? But yet I’ll make assurance double sure and take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live, that I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies, and sleep in spite of thunder.” Speaker: Macbeth Situation: Macbeth makes this claim after seeing the second apparition, who tells him not to fear any man born from a woman Significance: This is a significant quote, because it highlights the important themes and motifs of ambition, fear, false sense of security, and manhood. Macbeth ambition is so great that it creates paranoia and fear, which in his eyes are created by Macduff. Fear also causes him to lose sense of his manhood/bravery (which previously has pushed him to commit other acts). It also showcases Macbeth’s sense of security which makes him vulnerable.
“But I must also feel it as a man.” Speaker: MacduffSituation: Macduff found out that his family was murdered. This quote is Macduff’s response to when Malcolm tells him to take it like a man.Significance: This quote is important because Macduff is arguing against the stereotype that only women can be emotional. Malcolm doesn’t understand how Macduff is feeling right now so he is telling him that in a situation like this he has the right to feel emotional, but that doesn’t make him any less of a man. Theme of manhood.
“A good and virtuous nature may recoil in and in an imperial charge. But I shall crave your pardon. That which you are, my thoughts cannot transpose. Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell. Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace. But grace must still look on.” Speaker: MalcolmSituation: Macduff arrives in England and Malcolm is yet to give word that his family has been murdered by Macbeth. Significance: The ending of the passage expresses the motif of foul is fair and fair is foul. Macbeth has transformed from a respected Thane to a Tyrant. When looking at grace and considering his actions they somehow seem to be morally right. This is driven by the fact that it was prophesied by the witches. Comparing angels/godly creatures to kings.
But cruel are the times when we are traitors and do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor from what we fear, yet know not what we fear.” Speaker: RossSituation: Ross and Lady Macduff discover the disappearance of Macduff, and Lady Macduff is sad and feels betrayed by her husband.Significance: Ross is referring to Macduff when he says that he is a traitor. Even though he intended to go to England and raise and army to save Scotland, he left his family vulnerable. In the text, Ross perceives Macduff as betraying his family and Scotland, though he doesn’t mean to.
” The castle of Macduff I will surprise, seize upon fife, give to the’ edge of the’ sword, his wife,his babies, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line” Speaker: MacbethSituation:Macbeth has just gotten confirmation from the witches that Macduff is a threat to him. To prevent his downfall he declares that he will murder Macduff and anyone who is close to him because he feels like he is forced to.Significance: Macbeth has turned into a cold blooded killer because he has had a little taste of power. MB is insecure and will kill at any sign of threat
“Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care who chafes, who frets or where conspirers are.” Speaker: Third ApparitionSituation:Third Apparition is telling MacBeth that he has no need to worry about people plotting against him,.Significance: Macbeth has a false sense of security after the apparition tells him this because he believes that he is unable to be harmed or overthrown for a long period of time. This can also lead to arrogance and tyranny, because Macbeth believes he can do as he wants without any threat of conspirators.
“No, they were well at peace when I did leave ’em” Speaker: RossSituation: Ross has come to MacDuff knowing that his family is dead.Significance: Ross is putting off telling Macduff about the death of his family, while not lying, but playing with the words well and peace. Appearance versus reality? Here we see Shakespeare playing with words that have double meaning This shows how Ross is uncomfortable telling MacDuff at first, and how MacDuff hears the meanings of the words that he would rather hear.
“Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now” Speaker – MacduffSituation – After Ross tells Macduff that Macbeth had his whole family killed, including all of his little children, Macduff says that he will fight him.Significance – Macduff says that he is going to create an army and fight Macbeth, strongly encouraged by the death of his wife and kids. This is significant to the prophecy that we have heard about Macbeth having to be aware of Macduff and be careful. Macduff counts himself as responsible for the deaths of his family
“Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn / The power of man, for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” -Speaker: The Second Apparition (Bloody Child)-Situation: Macbeth is seeing a number of supernatural figures while he is in the presence of the Witches. This apparition comes in the form of a bloodied child. -Significance: This apparitions message to Macbeth is meant to give him a sense of security, by telling him that he can’t be killed by anyone born of a woman he thinks he’s essentially invincible. This quotation is likely an attempt by the witches to get Macbeth to let his guard down so he’ll be easier to manipulate in the future. Man or mankind?
“O Scotland, Scotland!” -Speaker: Macduff-Situation: Macduff speaks this line shortly after Malcolm tells him his vices (he doesn’t actually have the vices he speaks of, it’s a test by Malcolm to see if Macduff is loyal.)-Significance: By speaking this line in front of Malcolm, Macduff shows how much he cares about Scotland. Malcolm knew that if Macduff had simply stood by and been okay with these vices for a King Macduff was likely on Macbeth’s side and simply trying to betray him. It also shows that he’s willing to express what he truly feels even if he knows it could get him in a bit of trouble.
“Double, double toil and trouble” Speaker: The witchesSituation: Macbeth has committed/commanded many deaths on quest to fulfill the prophecy and is going to the witches who are presently working their magicSignificance: This is an iconic line that is referenced and alluded to in other works. It is at the beginning of the first major soliloquy we see from the witches as well as the first time we see them actually working magic. Additionally the whole soliloquy rhymes which, as we have discussed, often occurs just before a death in Shakespearean works.
“Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff! Beware the Thane of Fife!” Speaker: The first apparitionSituation: Macbeth has come to the witches seeking help and guidance from the witches and they summon three apparitions the first of which delivers this line in a helmet.Significance: This is the most straightforward of the prophecies given by the apparitions, stating plainly that Macduff, Thane of Fife, is dangerous to Macbeth. Macbeth responds to this by attempting to command the apparition to silence, but the action he takes later in killing Lady Macduff and her children shows his credence in the witches and their work. Ironically his killing of Macduff’s family is what spurs Macduff into anger, seeking vengeance, further cementing his opposition to Macbeth.
“I grant him bloody, luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful , sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin that has a name. But there’s no bottom, none, in my voluptuousness. Your wives, daughters, your matrons, and your maids could not fill up the cistern of my lust, and my desire all continent impediments would o’erbear that did oppose my will. Better Macbeth than such an one to reign. Malcolm, after Macduff has begun asking him to return to Scotland and take back his birthright on the throne; Trying to say all of these bad things about himself to test Macduff in if he is loyal to Scotland or Macbeth so he knows whether to return and battle or of it’s a trick.
“This noble passion, Child of integrity, hath from my soul wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts to thy good truth and honor. Devilish Macbeth by many of these trains hath sought to win me into his power, and modest wisdom plucks me from overcredulous haste.” Malcolm, after Macduff has cried out in worry for his country. He now is admitting that he was lying about himself and is Reinforcing idea that Macduff is a good person and is trustworthy so he can come back to Scotland and fight Macbeth
“Bleed, bleed poor country! Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure, for goodness dare not check thee, Wear thou thy wrongs. The title is affeered.-Fare thee well, lord. I would not be the villain that thou thunk’s for the whole space that’s in the tyrant’s grasp, and the rich East to boot.” Macduff, after Malcolm says that he thinks Macduff is trying to trick him into returning. Tyranny can make itself secure because no one is there to oppose it; only Malcom can rightfully take back the throne because it’s his birthright; “stolen crown” part goes back to idea of borrowed robes
“Wisdom? To leave his wife, to leave his babes, his mansion and his titles in a place from whence himself does fly? He loves us not; he wants the natural touch; for the poor wren, the most diminutive of birds, will fight, her young ones in her nest against the owl. All is fear, and nothing is the love, as little is the wisdom, where the flight so runs against all reason.” Lady Macduff, talking to Ross about how Macduff has flown to England and left his family in a dangerous time. Motif of birds; MD is a traitor to the family because he left them vulnerable and lady MD is stronger than him
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” THE SECOND WITCH after talking with Hecate, just before Macbeth comes in. recognizes MB as evil, even as a mortal, and it’s interesting because he is sensing the evil arising “wicked…comes” before he’s even there.

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