Macbeth Quote Quiz

The raven himself is hoarse That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my battlements. Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood, Stop up th’access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between Th’ effect and it. Come to my woman’s breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers, Wherever in your sightless substances You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, To cry ‘Hold, hold!’ Lady Macbeth speaks these words in Act 1, scene 5, lines 36-52, as she awaits the arrival of King Duncan at her castle. We have previously seen Macbeth’s uncertainty about whether he should take the crown by killing Duncan. In this speech, there is no such confusion, as Lady Macbeth is clearly willing to do whatever is necessary to seize the throne. Her strength of purpose is contrasted with her husband’s tendency to waver. This speech shows the audience that Lady Macbeth is the real steel behind Macbeth and that her ambition will be strong enough to drive her husband forward. At the same time, the language of this speech touches on the theme of masculinity— “unsex me here / . . . / . . . Come to my woman’s breasts, / And take my milk for gall,” Lady Macbeth says as she prepares herself to commit murder. The language suggests that her womanhood, represented by breasts and milk, usually symbols of nurture, impedes her from performing acts of violence and cruelty, which she associates with manliness. Later, this sense of the relationship between masculinity and violence will be deepened when Macbeth is unwilling to go through with the murders and his wife tells him, in effect, that he needs to “be a man” and get on with it.
If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly. If th’assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch With his surcease success: that but this blow Might be the be-all and the end-all, here, But here upon this bank and shoal of time, We’d jump the life to come. But in these cases We still have judgement here, that we but teach Bloody instructions which, being taught, return To plague th’inventor. This even-handed justice Commends th’ingredience of our poisoned chalice To our own lips. He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued against The deep damnation of his taking-off, And pity, like a naked new-born babe, Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin, horsed Upon the sightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself And falls on th’other. In this soliloquy, which is found in Act 1, scene 7, lines 1-28, Macbeth debates whether he should kill Duncan. When he lists Duncan’s noble qualities (he “[h]ath borne his faculties so meek”) and the loyalty that he feels toward his king (“I am his kinsman and his subject”), we are reminded of just how grave an outrage it is for the couple to slaughter their ruler while he is a guest in their house. At the same time, Macbeth’s fear that “[w]e still have judgement here, that we but teach / Bloody instructions which, being taught, return / To plague th’inventor,” foreshadows the way that his deeds will eventually come back to haunt him. The imagery in this speech is dark—we hear of “bloody instructions,” “deep damnation,” and a “poisoned chalice”—and suggests that Macbeth is aware of how the murder would open the door to a dark and sinful world. At the same time, he admits that his only reason for committing murder, “ambition,” suddenly seems an insufficient justification for the act. The destruction that comes from unchecked ambition will continue to be explored as one of the play’s themes. As the soliloquy ends, Macbeth seems to resolve not to kill Duncan, but this resolve will only last until his wife returns and once again convinces him, by the strength of her will, to go ahead with their plot.
Whence is that knocking?— How is’t with me, when every noise appals me? What hands are here! Ha, they pluck out mine eyes. 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. Macbeth says this in Act 2, scene 2, lines 55-61. He has just murdered Duncan, and the crime was accompanied by supernatural portents. Now he hears a mysterious knocking on his gate, which seems to promise doom. (In fact, the person knocking is Macduff, who will indeed eventually destroy Macbeth.) The enormity of Macbeth’s crime has awakened in him a powerful sense of guilt that will hound him throughout the play. Blood, specifically Duncan’s blood, serves as the symbol of that guilt, and Macbeth’s sense that “all great Neptune’s ocean” cannot cleanse him—that there is enough blood on his hands to turn the entire sea red—will stay with him until his death. Lady Macbeth’s response to this speech will be her prosaic remark, “A little water clears us of this deed” (2.2.65). By the end of the play, however, she will share Macbeth’s sense that Duncan’s murder has irreparably stained them with blood.
Out, damned spot; out, I say. One, two,—why, then ’tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier and afeard? What need we fear who knows it when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him? These words are spoken by Lady Macbeth in Act 5, scene 1, lines 30-34, as she sleepwalks through Macbeth’s castle on the eve of his battle against Macduff and Malcolm. Earlier in the play, she possessed a stronger resolve and sense of purpose than her husband and was the driving force behind their plot to kill Duncan. When Macbeth believed his hand was irreversibly bloodstained earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth had told him, “A little water clears us of this deed” (2.2.65). Now, however, she too sees blood. She is completely undone by guilt and descends into madness. It may be a reflection of her mental and emotional state that she is not speaking in verse; this is one of the few moments in the play when a major character—save for the witches, who speak in four-foot couplets—strays from iambic pentameter. Her inability to sleep was foreshadowed in the voice that her husband thought he heard while killing the king—a voice crying out that Macbeth was murdering sleep. And her delusion that there is a bloodstain on her hand furthers the play’s use of blood as a symbol of guilt. “What need we fear who knows it when none can call our power to account?” she asks, asserting that as long as her and her husband’s power is secure, the murders they committed cannot harm them. But her guilt-racked state and her mounting madness show how hollow her words are. So, too, does the army outside her castle. “Hell is murky,” she says, implying that she already knows that darkness intimately. The pair, in their destructive power, have created their own hell, where they are tormented by guilt and insanity.
She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle. Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. These words are uttered by Macbeth after he hears of Lady Macbeth’s death, in Act 5, scene 5, lines 16-27. Given the great love between them, his response is oddly muted, but it segues quickly into a speech of such pessimism and despair—one of the most famous speeches in all of Shakespeare—that the audience realizes how completely his wife’s passing and the ruin of his power have undone Macbeth. His speech insists that there is no meaning or purpose in life. Rather, life “is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.” One can easily understand how, with his wife dead and armies marching against him, Macbeth succumbs to such pessimism. Yet, there is also a defensive and self-justifying quality to his words. If everything is meaningless, then Macbeth’s awful crimes are somehow made less awful, because, like everything else, they too “signify nothing.”Macbeth’s statement that “[l]ife’s but a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage” can be read as Shakespeare’s somewhat deflating reminder of the illusionary nature of the theater. After all, Macbeth is only a “player” himself, strutting on an Elizabethan stage. In any play, there is a conspiracy of sorts between the audience and the actors, as both pretend to accept the play’s reality. Macbeth’s comment calls attention to this conspiracy and partially explodes it—his nihilism embraces not only his own life but the entire play. If we take his words to heart, the play, too, can be seen as an event “full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.”
“Yet do I fear thy nature, It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way.” – Lady Macbeth (Act I, Scene V)Sarah Siddons who is famous for her portrayal of Lady MacbethThis line is said by Lady Macbeth after she reads a letter from her husband informing her of the prophecy of the witches which say that Macbeth would be King. She is excited by the letter but fears that Macbeth is too ‘full of the milk of human kindness’ or of too good a nature, to take the shortest route to the crown which would be to eliminate the king and seize the throne.
“Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under ‘t.” – Lady Macbeth (Act I, Scene V)This line is said by Lady Macbeth during a speech in which she is convincing her husband to pretend like a perfect host when King Duncan visits them to hide their true purpose of murdering Duncan. Hence she tells Macbeth to look like an innocent flower but be like the serpent which hides underneath it.
“Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.” – Second Apparition (Act IV, Scene I)A painting by William Rimmer depicting the witches’ conjuring of an apparitionThe ‘bloody child’ is the second of the three apparitions that the witches conjure for Macbeth and it is perhaps the most famous. It tells Macbeth to be confident and without fear, for no person who is born of a woman can harm him. This convinces Macbeth that he is invincible as he would never be killed by another man. He chooses to neglect the first apparition which warned him of Macduff and doesn’t realize that the ‘bloody child’ is
“There’s daggers in men’s smiles. The near in blood, The nearer bloody.” – Donalbain (Act II, Scene III)This line is said by the younger son of King Duncan in a conversation with his elder brother after their father’s murder. Donalbain suspects that the people who surround them and are acting kindly contain among them the person who murdered their father. He says that daggers are present in men’s smile probably referring to the canines which show when one smiles and implying that not everyone who acts friendly is a friend. ‘The near in blood, the nearer bloody’ implies that beware of the ones who are in the closest-relation with you as they are most likely to betray and murder you.
“Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests; I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born.” – Macbeth (Act V, Scene VIII)Macbeth and Banquo with the Witches by Henry FuseliThis line is spoken by Macbeth when Macduff challenges him. He says that let your blade fall on chests that are vulnerable or fight with someone who can be defeated. He adds that he leads a charmed life which can’t be ended by anyone born of a woman. Macbeth gets this illusion of being invincible due to the second apparition which states that “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.” Macduff then states that he was not born but cut out of his mother’s womb before she could bear him naturally. This quote gave rise to the famous phrase ‘charmed life’. Though charmed meant magical in Shakespeare’s times, the phrase was extended to mean anyone who was lucky and escaped danger narrowly.
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair” – The Witches (Act I, Scene I)Among the last lines in Scene I of Act I, this famous quote is said by the witches and sets the tone of the play. It could be simply deciphered as what is fair or pretty will become foul or ugly and vice versa, i.e. things would be opposite to what they appear. It could be also interpreted as suggesting that Macbeth’s world will become upside down and he will do things he considers foul or unfair disregarding what appears fair to him. This line is among the most important in Macbeth and can be considered closest to describing the theme of the play.
“To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself.” This famous quote is spoken by Macbeth in the scene where he returns after killing Duncan in his sleep. Macbeth is stating that it would be better if he was completely unaware of himself than to be conscious and think of the crime he had committed. He doubts whether he knows the man who committed the crime. The quote reflects that although Macbeth chooses to realize his ambition by unethical means, he is also aware of his wrongdoing.
“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” – Macbeth (Act V, Scene V)Film adaptation of Macbeth (1948) directed by Orson WellesThis quote is from one of the most famous soliloquies in Macbeth. It is spoken by Macbeth after he hears that his wife has committed suicide and he also knows that armies are marching against him. He says that days on this world are short, a ‘brief candle’ and ultimately one is enveloped in darkness. He compares life to an unimportant actor, a ‘walking shadow’ for the character he plays. This insignificant actor “struts and frets his hour upon the stage” or is proud and anxious for the small part he has to perform on stage and then he is heard no more. He then compares life to the tale told by a director which is full of noise and passion but ultimately it signifies nothing. Comparing life to theatre, Shakespeare not only questions the purpose of life but also gives a reminder of the illusionary nature of theatre.
Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. “ – Lady Macbeth (Act V, Scene I)The Sleepwalking Lady Macbeth by Johann Heinrich FussliThis line is from the famous sleepwalking scene after which Lady Macbeth commits suicide off-stage. It is part of what is considered one of the greatest passages capturing guilt in English literature. Lady Macbeth is traumatized and guilt-ridden and she says that she cannot get rid of the smell of blood from her hands, not even if all the perfumes of Arabia are applied to it. This is in sharp contrast to her statement to Macbeth when he murdered Duncan where she said “a little water clears us of this deed”. Knowing that she was the prime force that led Macbeth to this murderous path, her guilt dominates her thoughts and she is unable to turn away from what she now considers sins.
Things without all remedy should be without regard: what’s done, is done.” – Lady Macbeth (Act III, Scene II)Lady Macbeth says these lines to her husband in an effort to make him get over the guilt and fear he is experiencing due to the murder he has committed. She says that things which cannot be remedied should not be given regard to or you shouldn’t think about things which you can’t rectify. She adds “what’s done, is done” implying that “there’s no changing the past, so forget about it and move on.” Although Shakespeare didn’t coin the phrase “what’s done, is done” but Macbeth remains one of the first recorded use of it and it definitely made the phrase popular.
If I had died but an hour before this chance, / I had lived a blessed time; for, from this instant, / There’s nothing serious in mortality: / All is but toys: renown and grace is dead; / The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees / Is left this vault to brag of . (Act II, scene III). Enjoy this fine example of verbal irony: the hearers assume Macbeth’s lamentation is caused by the death of the king; Macbeth actually speaks of his murdering of the king. In this passage, 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.
Nothing in his life / Became him like the leaving it; he died / As one that had been studied in his death, / To throw away the dearest thing he ow’d, / As ’twere a careless triflee. (I, iv) Malcolm’s description of the thane of Cawdor’s execution for treason foreshadows the death of the new thane of Cawdor, Macbeth.
I have no spur / To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself / And falls on the other. (I, vii). In an attempt to get psyched up for the murder of Duncan, Macbeth concludes that he has no real reason to kill the king, other than his own ambition to become king. The results of this action demonstrates the dangers of unchecked ambition.
How is’t with me, when every noise appals me? / What hands are here! Ha, they pluck out mine eyes. / 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, 56-61) Macbeth says this to himself after murdering Duncan. His guilt causes him to shake at every noise. His hands symbolize the murder. Neptune is an allusion to the Roman god of the sea, whose waters could not wipe the blood–meaning guilt–from Macbeth’s hands. In case you’re wondering, incarnadine means a pinkish, reddish color similar to the color of flesh or blood, the same color as the seas if Macbeth were to wash his hands in them. The entire passage exemplifies hyperbole and demonstrates the extent of Macbeth’s guilt, a guilt which he no longer feels after the murders of Banquo and Macduff’s family.
Out, damned spot! out, I say! This line in act V is spoken by Lady Macbeth as she sleepwalks and is an outward manifestation of her inward guilt. After the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth chides Macbeth for his lack of masculinity and tells him to forget the deed and move forward as king. As the play continues and Macbeth loses all feeling of remorse for his treacherous deeds, Lady Macbeth begins to feel guilt for her role in the deaths of Banquo and Macduff’s family.
Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee; / I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. / Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible / To feeling as to sight? or art thou but / A dagger of the mind, a false creation, / Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? / I see thee yet, in form as palpable / As this which now I draw. (II, i). It is clear that Macbeth is insane. He sees witches on the moor. He sees a dagger in mid air that mocks him moments before killing the king. He sees Banquo’s ghost sitting in his spot at the dinner table. Shakespeare puts in a nice pun with “A dagger of the mind.” The dagger may also symbolize the throne itself: Macbeth sees it, yet cannot grasp it; when the dagger is grasped so is the throne. The grasping of both does not bring the desired happiness.
Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn, and caldron bubble. / Fillet of a fenny snake, / In the caldron boil and bake; / Eye of newt, and toe of frog, / Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, / Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, / Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,— / For a charm of powerful trouble, / Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. / Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn, and caldron bubble. (IV, i). These are Macbeth’s main advisors. Is there any wonder he ends up headless? (The witches also share a striking resemblance to my financial advisors at the end of ’07 (I should have known there was trouble) and my guidance counselor who steered me toward English literature and away from computer technology in 1985 because computers were a fad.)
Fair is foul and foul is fair. The opening scene establishes the play’s mood and one of its main themes: things are not as they seem, a theme evidenced by the false sense of security enjoyed by the play’s soon to be killed characters.
Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts! unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top full / Of direst cruelty; / make thick my blood, / Stop up the access and passage to remorse, / That no compunctious visitings of nature / Shake my fell purpose. (I, iv). Lady Macbeth calls forth her unladylike qualities to buoy her desires to rid Scotland of Duncan and have her husband crowned king.
By the pricking of my thumbs, / Something wicked this way comes. When three witches chanting around a cauldron announce your arrival in this manner, you’ve probably made a bad decision at some point in your life. This is exactly how the witches announce the coming of Macbeth.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools / The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! / Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more: it is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing. (V, v). Macbeth describes life immediately after hearing about the death of Lady Macbeth through the use of an extended metaphor. According to Macbeth life is a path leading to death, a brief candle, marked by the shadow of death, a bad actor who is heard from never again after leaving the stage, and a story teller who yells his meaningless tale. Not exactly the optimistic comparison you were hoping for? Keep in mind that this description of life comes from a man who has just lost his wife, who is guilty of murdering several people, and is under attack by an army of 10,000 men. You’d probably be depressed too.
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (Witches 1.1.12)
“So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” Macbeth
Yet I do fear thy nature;/ Is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness/ To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;/ Art not without ambition, but without/ The illness should attend it: what thou wouldst highly,/ That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,/ And yet wouldst wrongly win: thou’ldst have, great Glamis,” Lady Macbeth
“Hie thee hither,/ That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;/ And chastise with the valour of my tongue/ All that impedes thee from the golden round,/ Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem/ To have thee crown’d withal.” Lady Macbeth
“Come, you spirits/ That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,/ And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full/ Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;/ Stop up the access and passage to remorse,/ That no compunctious visitings of nature/ Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between/ The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,/ And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,/ Wherever in your sightless substances/ You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night,/ And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,/ That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,/ Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,/ To cry ‘Hold, hold!'” Lady Macbeth
“look like the innocent flower,/ But be the serpent under’t.” Lady Macbeth
“If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well/ It were done quickly: if the assassination/ Could trammel up the consequence, and catch/ With his surcease success; that but this blow/ Might be the be-all and the end-all here,/ But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,/ We’ld jump the life to come. But in these cases/ We still have judgment here; that we but teach/ Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return/ To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice/ Commends the ingredients of our poison’d chalice/ To our own lips.” Macbeth
“I have no spur/ To prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself/ And falls on the other.” Macbeth
“Is this a dagger which I see before me,/ The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee./ I have thee not, and yet I see thee still./ Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible/ To feeling as to sight? or art thou but/ A dagger of the mind, a false creation,/ Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?/ I see thee yet, in form as palpable/ As this which now I draw./ Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going;/ And such an instrument I was to use./ Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other senses,/ Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,/ And on thy blade and dudgeon 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 halfworld/ Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse/ The curtain’d sleep; witchcraft celebrates/ Pale Hecate’s offerings, and wither’d murder,/ Alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf,/ Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace./ With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his design/ Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,/ Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear/ Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,/ And take the present horror from the time,/ Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:/ Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. Macbeth
“Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!/ Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent sleep,/ Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,/ The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,/ Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,/ Chief nourisher in life’s feast,–“ Macbeth
“What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes./ Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather/ The multitudinous seas in incarnadine,/ Making the green one red.” Macbeth
“Naught’s had, all’s spent,/ Where our desire is got without content:/ ‘Tis safer to be that which we destroy/ Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.” Macbeth
“We have scorch’d the snake, not kill’d it:/ She’ll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice/ Remains in danger of her former tooth.” Macbeth
“In the affliction of these terrible dreams/ That shake us nightly: better be with the dead,/ Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,/ Than on the torture of the mind to lie/ In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;/ After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well;/ Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,/ Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,/ Can touch him further.” Macbeth

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