Macbeth Acts 1-3 Quotes

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” (I.i.12) Speaker: WitchesAddressing: ThemselvesContext: Discussing meeting with MacbethParaphrase: Good is bad and bad is good
“What are these,/ so withered, and so wild in their attire,/ That look not like th’inhabitants o’th’earth/ And yet are on’t? — Live you, or are you aught/ That man may question? You seem to understand me/ By each at once her choppy finger laying/ Upon her skinny lips. You should be women,/ And yet your beards forbid me to interpret/ That you are so.” (I.iii.40-49) Speaker: BanquoAddressing: MacbethContext: After meeting witchesParaphrase: Who are these women who look so wild and not human? Are you alive? Are you human? Can you hear me? Perhaps you can but are you women? It appears you should be, but your beard looks like you are a man.
“Were such things here as we do speak about/ Or have we eaten from the insane root/ That takes the reason prisoner?” (I.iii.86-88) Speaker: BanquoAddressing: MacbethContext: After given prophecyParaphrase: Have we heard the truth or are we crazy?
“The Prince of Cumberland – that is a step/ On which I must fall down or else o’erleap,/ For in my way it lies.” (I.iv.5-57) Speaker: MacbethAddressing: HimselfContext: Malcolm has just been named prince. He is going to kill Malcolm in order to get the title of being kingParaphrase: Malcolm is either someone I let be king or kill him so I can be king.
“Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be/ What thou art promised: yet I do fear thy nature./ It is too much full o’ the milk of human kindness/ To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;/ Art not without ambition, but withoutThe illness should attend it” (I.v.15-25) Speaker: Lady MacbethAddressing: HerselfContext: She just read the letter that Macbeth sent her. Paraphrase: You are Thane of Glamis and Cawdor and will be King because that is what you are promised. You are too kind, though, to do what it will take to be king. But you are ambitious.
“I see thee still/ And on thy blade dudgeon [“handle”] gouts of blood/ Which was not so before. There’s no such thing.It is the bloody business which informs/ Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one-half worldNature seems dead and wicked dreams abuse/ The curtained sleep.” Speaker: MacbethAddressing: HimselfContext: Macbeth is hallucinating because he is worried about the decision to kill Duncan.Paraphrase: I see your dagger with blood on your handle which was not there before. You are not real. The business of murdering Duncan is causing you to be here. It’s the middle of the night.
“But now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in/To saucy doubts and fears.” Speaker: MacbethAddressing: Himself (aside)Context: Asking the murderer to kill Banquo. Paraphrase: I feel trapped by my guilt.
“I am in blood / Stepped so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as [going]. Speaker: MacbethAddressing: Lady MacbethContext:Macbeth is having a fit during the dinner party. Paraphrase: I am in guilt and can’t get out.
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.” (II.ii.78-81) Speaker: MacbethAddressing: himselfContext: He has just killed Duncan and is panicking. Paraphrase: No amount of water will wash away this guilt.
“To be thus is nothing./ But to be safely thus./ Our fears in Banquo/ Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature/ Reigns that which would be feared.” (III.i.52-55) Speaker: MacbethAddressing: himselfContext: He has become king and fears Banquo. Paraphrase: To be king is nothing but to be safely king! I fear Banquo because he is too good.
“O gentle Lady/ ‘Tis not for you to hear what I can speak./ The repetition in a woman’s ear / Would murder as it fell” (II.iii.96-99) Speaker: MacduffAddressing: Lady MacbethContext: After Duncan’s murderParaphrase: I can’t tell you what I saw because it’s too graphic for a lady’s ear to hear.

You Might Also Like