Macbeth Paradox and Equivocations

“So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” -1.3.39 Macbeth –> Banquo (Paradox)1. The day is foul due to the witches raising a storm, and fair because of Macbeth’s victories on the battlefield. 2. Unbeknownst to Macbeth, his very first words in the play eerily echo the words of the witches, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (1.1.11), and thus the audience sees immediately the calamitous inseparability of Macbeth and the forces of darkness.3. The similarity of Macbeth and the witches:witches are foul, but they give adviceMacbeth seems to be a hero, but he’s a murderer and a traitor.
“Lesser than Macbeth and greater.” -1.3.68 First witch –> Banquo (Paradox)Banquo will be “lesser” than Macbeth in that he will never himself be King of Scotland. In fact, Banquo is now nothing but a corpse in a ditch. However, his heirs are destined to become kings of not only Scotland but of the England of Shakespeare’s time.
“Not so happy, yet much happier.” -1.3.69 Second witch –> Banquo (Paradox)It is self-contradicting by stating that Banquo won’t be happy himself, but at the same time, he’ll be happy for his sons.
“This supernatural soliciting / Cannot be ill, cannot be good.” -1.3.143-144 Macbeth –> himself/audience (Paradox)The temptation of believing and acting on the witches’ prophecy is good and bad.This is the first place we see MB’s constant internal struggle and conflict. He continues to be tormented with the decision of ambition or morals.
“And nothing is but what is not.” -1.3.155 Macbeth –> himself/audience (paradox)what Macbeth thinks is fair/true/right, in reality, it is worth nothing and it is false/wrongWhen he knows he’s gonna be king, his temptation of killing the king confuses him
“All our service, / In every point twice done and then done double ….” -1.6.18-19 Lady Macbeth –> King Duncon (Equivocation)Lady Macbeth is talking to the king about how thrilled she is to have him in the house and how they are going to work hard to take care of him. This is dramatic irony because we know Lady Macbeth is planning to kill him.
“Had I but died an hour before this chance, / I had lived a blessed time ….” -2.3.107-108 Macbeth –> Lennox, Ross, and Banquo (Equivocation)He wants everyone to believe that he is sad about Duncan’s death and that he would rather die before Duncan because he doesn’t want to live in a time where the King was murdered.Macbeth expresses his guilt over what he has done, a guilt which he sheds as the play progresses and Macbeth orders the murders of Banquo and Macduff’s family. At the same time, he tried to wash away his suspicion.
“And though I could / With barefaced power sweep him from my sight / And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not, / For certain friends that are both his and mine, / Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall / Who I myself struck down.” -3.1.134-139 Macbeth –> hired murderers (Equivocation)He is asking the two murderers to hide his real plans of killing Banquo from the public eye for many because they have friends in common and they won’t be happy with Macbeth killing Banquo.
“Thou canst not say I did it ….” -3.4.61 Macbeth –> ghost of Banquo (Equivocation)Macbeth is saying that he did kill Banquo, but Banquo can’t accuse him of the murder since he hired a killer to kill Banquo.

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