Macbeth Key quotes

“For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name)”• •Macbeth has bravely fought in a battle on the side of his ruler, King Duncan, risking his own life.•The Captain, who is telling King Duncan about the battle, is clearly impressed by Macbeth’s bravery. By using brackets here (or dashes in some versions), Shakespeare is emphasising that Macbeth deserves to be called brave and that his bravery stands out.•Macbeth obviously lives by the heroic code and this creates a good first impression of Macbeth for the reader.
‘We will proceed no further in this business’. This is what Macbeth tells his wife to mean he does not want to kill King Duncan anymore.Despite his final decision to murder King Duncan ( ‘False face must hide what the false heart doth know.’ 1,7), Macbeth really struggles with the decision to go ahead with the plot. Macbeth does not want to go against his friend, his king or God (Divine right of kings).It is Lady Macbeth who uses manipulation to encourage Macbeth to go ahead with the murder – she calls him a coward, accuses him of lying to his wife, implies that he is less than a man, etc.
‘He unseam’d him from the nave to th’ chops, / And fix’d his head upon our battlements’. Macbeth’s violent side is present from the start.He is thought to be a hero because of his violent nature – but, he uses this violence to kill people for the king.When fighting the Norwegian enemies, Macbeth attacked a man he had never met before and slit him open from his belly to his jaw, and then cut off his head and placed it on the battlements.This action is horrific, but is viewed as heroic because it happened to an enemy.
“If good, why do I yield to that suggestion / Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair, /…” Macbeth`s mind jumps to the death of King Duncan – the only way of becoming king.The imagery of terror that Shakespeare uses in this quote suggests that Macbeth is already thinking about murder.The possibility of power has moved him from a loyal subject to the worst kind of traitor.
Stars, hide your fires, / Let not light see my black and deep desires’. (1,4) In an aside, Macbeth says that Malcolm is now an obstacle for him and says those words, admiting that he wants the crown, even though it is disloyal to want it.
‘I have no spur / to prick the sides of my intent, but only / … …Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself / And falls on th’other’. (1,7)Macbeth says this in his soliloquy at the start of the scene.Macbeth is struggling to take action. He realises the only thing making him want to kill King Duncan is ambition. He says ambition makes people do stupid things and leads to disaster.
‘If chance will have me king, why then chance may crown me, / Without my stir’ (1,3) Towards the beginning of the play, Macbeth decides that if fate has said he will be king, then that will happen without him interfering.
‘My dearest love’ (1,5) Macbeth uses loving language towards his wife, when they are first together on the stage.Macbeth writes to his wife and tells her about the witches. Many men would not talk such things with their wives.He seems to treat her more equally, maybe because he cares about her, or he values her opinion. Perhaps she has helped him with decisions in the past?It might give the audience a clue about why he lets her influence him in the way that she does at the start of the play.
‘Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor’ (1,5) Instead of loving language, Lady Macbeth greets her husband by flattering his statusLady Macbeth dominates the conversation. Macbeth hardly speaks.He seems the more caring of the two here.Lady Macbeth decides the plan for them. Macbeth tells her they will speak more later, but Lady Macbeth seems to interrupt him.This makes us question things about his character – is he desperately in love with her and keen to please? Or is he really weak mentally?Does Macbeth kill King Duncan to please his wife?
I’We will speak further—’ (1,5) Macbeth doesn’t speak much in this scene. Lady Macbeth seems to have power over him.He tries to put her off with those words but the dash shows that she interrupts him. She tells him to worry about how he comes across and that she will sort everything out.She is immediately shown to be a manipulative character, almost overpowering her husband.
‘I fear thy nature, / It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way’ (1,5). Shakespeare uses this metaphor to suggest that Macbeth is a good man. But milk, a substance that mothers make to feed to their young, might also suggest that Lady Macbeth sees his kindness as weakness.In this way, as is the case with many Shakespearian plays, the male character seems to have more stereotypically feminine traits (i.e. Macbeth seems kinder and more caring, whereas Lady Macbeth appears to have more control).
‘Are you a man?’ (3,4) This is what Lady Macbeth asks when Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost.This suggests that a lack of courage makes him less of a man.People often saw mental disturbances as a female problem.
‘But screw your courage to the sticking-place, / And we’ll not fail’ (1,7). This is what Lady Macbeth says when her husband asks what would happen if they fail on their plan to kill the king.Macbeth is very torn about whether he should kill the king. He decides not to go on because he does not think ambition alone is a good enough reason to want the crown.It seems that one of the key things holding him back is fear of people retaliating, but his wife quickly persuades him to continue with the plan. This suggests that she has power over her husband.
‘We have scorch’d the snake, not killed it.’ This is what Macbeth responds when Lady Macbeth worries he is thinking a lot of bad thoughts about killing King Duncan and says: ‘what’s done, is done’
‘Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck’ (3,2). Macbeth tells his wife instead of discussing his new plans.Lady Macbeth was the key motivator behind the murder of King Duncan. But Macbeth doesn’t even discuss his plan to kill Banquo.Perhaps he wants to save her the suffering that he feels: ‘O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!’ (3,2).It seems he has taken control and there has been a power shift in their relationship.Macbeth is almost shown to be paranoid here.
‘art thou but / A dagger of the mind, a false creation, / Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?’ (2,1). Throughout the play, Macbeth sees supernatural things, such as a floating dagger, Banquo’s ghost and the spirits that are shown to him by the witches.This quote reflects that it is unclear whether these visions are real or his hallucinations (ghostly images).
murdered sleep’ (2,2) After Macbeth has killed King Duncan, he believes he has ‘murdered sleep’ (2,2).He seems ashamed of the blood on his hands, calling it a ‘sorry sight’.This suggests that he already feels regret over the murder. It is the last time, until the final act, that we see Macbeth kill anyone with his own hands.Murder seems to have disturbed him.
‘To be thus is nothing, / But to be safely thus.’ (3,1) This is part of Macbeth`s soliloquy (speech to himself). He talks about why he must murder Banquo to keep his crown safe.He does not want Banquo’s sons to inherit the crown because Macbeth has damned himself to get it from King Duncan and his heirs – he has worked hard to murder King Duncan and gain the crown, and does not want to give it up: ‘For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind; / For them, the gracious Duncan have I murdered, / Put rancours in the vessel of my peace / Only for them, and mine eternal jewel / Given to the common enemy of man’ (3,1).
I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d, bound in / To saucy doubts and fears’ (3,4) This quote represents that Macbeth feels scared again, after hearing that Banquo is dead but Fleance escaped, because he has not eliminated the threat to his crown.
‘eternal jewel’ This speech shows that Macbeth is struggling mentally after the murder and cannot find peace.Shakespeare hints at his lack of sleep many times throughout the play. This might be to explain why he acts in violent ways.The metaphor, ‘eternal jewel’ refers to his immortal soul. He has given his soul to the ‘common enemy of man’.This means that he believes Satan will now possess his soul after death and he is damned (condemned) to being tortured in Hell.
‘black’ and ‘devilish’ (4,3) The audience learns from the conversations between different thanes (including Macduff’s meeting with Malcolm in England) that Macbeth is a tyrannical (oppressive and controlling) king and Scotland is suffering under his rule.They call Macbeth ‘black’ and ‘devilish’. This shows that they think of him as evil.
‘Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor: / The greatest is behind’. Macbeth speaks to himself (and the audience).His use of ‘greatest’ shows that the thing he places the most value on (the possibility of being king) is still yet to come – his path to it is behind closed doors and not yet revealed, but he feels that it could actually become a reality.
‘So fair and foul a day I have not seen’ Macbeth enters the stage for the first time in this scene. This is his first line of the play.This is important because it shows he knows about the trouble in nature. Things are mixed up and strange.This foreshadows (indicates something in the future) the conflict that will soon happen.This could also show how Macbeth’s personality and feelings are mixed, and that the play will show his true nature.
‘Doth unfix my hair / And make my seated heart knock at my ribs / Against the use of nature’. Macbeth says this in an aside (a conversation to himself).Macbeth feels afraid because something would have to happen to King Duncan for him to become king. He might even have to harm King Duncan.At this point in the play, he does not want to harm King Duncan, as he recognises the Divine Right of Kings, knowing that King Duncan was chosen by God to rule Scotland.He also feels a sense of loyalty to his friend.
Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane, / I cannot taint with fear’ This is what Macbeth tells his advisors.This moment contrasts to Macbeth’s first meeting with the witches, where he did not believe them because he felt that witchcraft was evil. Here, Macbeth his life based on the prophecies from the witches and ignores warnings.
‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’. (5,5) This quotes shows Macbeth shocked after finding out that Lady Macbeth is dead.He realises he has lost everything, including the wife he had loved so much.This shows how the loss of his wife, and his increased power, have completely changed Macbeth. He feels there is no point to life anymore.But this attitude about life having no meaning could also suggest he is trying to justify his crimes – is he suggesting that the murders he has committed are less horrible because life, and death, are meaningless?
‘I’ll fight, till from my bones my flesh be hacked’. This is what Macbeth says after being told that the army is coming. He finally decides to put on his armour and be ready for them.The doctor tells Macbeth that Lady Macbeth is troubled. He says she can’t sleep properly. Macbeth asks him to cure her: ‘Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, / Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow’.Macbeth knows that the thanes are abandoning him. He wishes that the doctor could cure Scotland too.

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