Macbeth Quotes

“Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none . . .” Speaker: Third WitchContext/Situation: In this scene, the witches are giving prophecies to Macbeth and Banquo. This particular line is addressed to Banquo, telling him that although his descendants will end up as kings, he himself will never be one.Significance: This prophecy informs Macbeth of the fact that Banquo is in his way of creating a legacy for his family line, and sets up Macbeth’s eventual ordering the death of Banquo and his one son in order to remove them from play.
“. . . oftentimes, to win us to our harm, / The instruments of darkness tell us truths, / Win us with honest trifles, to betray ‘s / In deepest consequence.” Speaker: BanquoContext/Situation: Macbeth got a prophecy from the Weird sisters that said that he would become the Thane of Cawdor, which ends up happening, which then makes Macbeth think that he may also be king because the witches said that he would be “king hereafter”.. However, Banquo here warns him that the witches are likely deceiving him by mixing truth with liesSignificance: This foreshadows events to come in the play, as the witches will, in fact, continue to tell Macbeth “truths” which will inflate Macbeth’s overconfidence and lead to his downfall. Like Banquo says, the witches win Macbeth’s confidence only to later do him harm.
That is a step / On which I must fall down or else o’erleap, / . . . Stars, hide your fires; / Let not light see my black and deep desires.” Speaker: MacbethContext/Situation: Duncan has just told Macbeth that his oldest son, Malcolm, while receive the title Prince of Cumberland (next in line for the throne). Macbeth speaks the quote as an aside–he must hope that the prince is removed or make it happen himself. He tells the stars not to shine, or else expose his dark intentions. Significance: This is the first moment of Macbeth’s downfall as he thinks of who is in front of him to be king.
“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.” Speaker: Lady MacbethContext/Situation: She has just read the letter from her husband which tells he the prophecy that he will become king. Significance: Lady Macbeth calls to the spirits to rid her of any guilt, and have no feminine weakness such as remorse. Lady Macbeth doubts that Macbeth with actually be able to kill the king, so basically she plans on having to do it all herself.
“Look like th’ innocent flower, / but be the serpent under’t.” Speaker: Lady MacbethContext/Situation: Part of Lady Macbeth’s speech advising Macbeth the best way to go about killing Duncan. She’s telling him to seem like a kind, innocent host (“flower”), but act like the serpent planning his true intentions of murdering Duncan (snake underneath the flower). Significance: This shows how manipulative Lady Macbeth is and how she was more ruthless than Macbeth to begin with.
“. . . / I have no spur / To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself . . .” Speaker: Macbeth Context/Situation: Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth to kill the king in order to gain power. However, Macbeth does not want to kill the king, even though he had agreed to Lady Macbeth’s plan earlier. He also realizes that he has no good reason to kill the king. Significance: This shows there was even a time when Lady Macbeth was more scheming and devious than Macbeth. Perhaps she was the final straw in converting Macbeth into a power-thirsting killer.
“Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand?” Speaker: Macbeth Context/Situation: Macbeth sees a dagger floating in and then questions if it is real or his own illusions. The dagger eventually led him to Duncan’s room, which prompts him to take out his dagger.Significance: He’s kind of going crazy (who sees an invisible dagger?). This is the last straw before he decides to close in for the kill. The dagger represents a guilty conscience, which is leading him towards Duncan’s room.
“My hands are of your color, but I shame / to wear a heart so white.” Speaker: Lady MacbethContext/Situation: Macbeth is telling his wife the details of what he has done in murdering Duncan. He is shaken after returning, and his wife seems to grow weary of his worries. Lady Macbeth takes Macbeth’s comments as exaggeration, stating how easy it will be to clean their hands of the murder.Significance: In this statement Lady Macbeth says that although she shares blame for the murder with her husband, she would be ashamed to display such cowardice.
“Wake Duncan with thy knocking, I would thou couldst.” Speaker: MacbethContext/Situation: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth having a conversation Immediately after the murder of Duncan, Macbeth talks to his wife.Significance: Macbeth wishes that whoever was knocking on the door could wake Duncan up, which shows his regret.
“Yet I do repent me of my fury / that I did kill them [the guards].” Speaker: MacbethContext/Situation: It takes place after the murder of Duncan, when everybody finds out about the murder. Macbeth tells Lennox, Ross, and Macduff, that he is so angry with the guards that he couldn’t help but kill them.Significance: Macbeth is covering up his murder by killing the guards, just in case one of the guards heard the murder taking place. It is also a way for Macbeth to “prove” that he loves Duncan so much, removing all suspicions.
“Where we are, / There’s daggers in men’s smiles.” Speaker: Donalbain to MalcolmContext/Situation: Duncan has just been murdered, and Donalbain and Malcolm are fleeing for their own personal safety. They believe the murderer is still near, and they may possibly be the next victims. Significance: This scene is significant because it portrays the hysteria that has occurred in the hours after Duncan’s death. The throne is wanted by someone, and if they are willing to murder Duncan, then they will do anything to achieve the throne. Also, it shows that Duncan’s sons’ first thoughts are of their own safety, and they do not feel as though they can trust anyone around them.
“Thou hast it now–King, Cawdor, Glamis, all / As the Weird Women promised, and I fear / Thou played’st most foully for ‘t . . .” Speaker: BanquoContext/Situation: Macbeth has become king. The prophecy of the witches had come true which means his part might also come true. Significance: For his own safety he keeps quiet about Macbeth becoming king through lowly means because he might be in danger.
“. . . To be thus is nothing, / But to be safely thus.” Speaker: Macbeth Context/Situation: Macbeth is talking about how being king is worthless, unless his position as king is safe. Significance: He only will enjoy being king if he can do so safely, and be not paranoid about everyone coming for his power. Since he has killed so many people, is is constantly worried that he is next to be killed.
” . . . I am in blood / Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” Speaker: MacbethContext/Situation: Macduff did not show to dinner, and Macbeth and his wife are now left alone in conversation. Macbeth suspects that Macduff is a traitor and realizes he might need to kill him in order to protect himself. He sees that he has so much blood on his hands now that it would be just as challenging to go back as it would be to continue. Significance: Macbeth is realizing he must commit fully to his quest to become king as he cannot change what he has done.
“Naught that I am, / Not for their own demerits, but for mine, / Fell slaughter on their souls.” Speaker: MacduffContext/Situation: Macduff says that his family was only murdered because they were related to him.Significance: Macbeth heartlessly murdered Macduff’s wife and children for the sole purpose of depriving Macduff of his joy in life. He opposed battlefield sportsmanship, and took his actions further than they ever should have been. He also feels guilty that he was unable to save his family, as he does not get to protect them in time.
“Be this the whetstone of your sword. Let grief / convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.” Speaker: MalcolmContext/Situation: Macduff is in England, pleading to Malcolm to bring an army to overthrow Macbeth. When Macduff hears that Macbeth has had his family killed for leaving Scotland, he experiences emotions of fear and anger. As a way to say that he is on Macduff’s side, Malcolm tells Macduff to not let this be a bump in Macduff’s quest, but rather a fuel to help complete it. Significance: Malcolm is on Macduff’s side and will try to take title of king from Macbeth, and also hints that an army will be raised for Macduff.

You Might Also Like