Macbeth quotes analysis & literary devices

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,To the last syllable of recorded time;And all our yesterdays have lighted foolsThe 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 taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.” – Said by Macbeth when he learns that his wife committed suicide. – Speech of pessimism and despair.- Insists that there is no purpose or meaning in life. – If everything is meaningless, then Macbeth’s awful crimes are somehow made less awful, because, like everything else, they too “signify nothing.”- Life is described like theater “struts and frets his hour upon the stage” –> this is how Shakespeare reminds us of the illusionary nature of the theatre.
Irony – A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.- The witches’ prophecy was ironic because it did not turn out as Macbeth had expected.- Lady Macbeth told Macbeth to man up when he felt guilty, but ironically she ended up going insane because of a guilty conscience. – There is also dramatic irony before Duncan is killed because the audience knows what is going to happen but the actors do not.
Paradox – A situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities – Macbeth is ambitious, but too gentle (two opposite qualities that eventually lead to his downfall)
Theme – An idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature.- Fate & Free will- Ambition- Power- Versions of reality- Gender- The supernatural- Violence- Time
Apostrophe – An exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person (typically one who is dead or absent) or thing (typically one that is personified).
This website has more terms and definitions (flip to see the link)
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” – Said by three witches speaking amongst themselves.- They are casting a spell on Macbeth while he is fighting in a battle against Norway.- This quote is paradox and embodies a main theme of the play (the difference between appearance and reality).- It also foreshadows Macbeth’s future decisions that he might believe to be fair but are actually foul. – Everything depends on perspective. To the witches, what is beautiful is ugly and vice versa.
“If you can look into the seeds of time,And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear Your favours nor your hate.” – Said by Banquo to the witches after they make predictions about Macbeth.- “seeds of time” is a metaphor for the many possible futures (some will grow, others won’t)- Banquo is thrilled to hear these great things about his friend and asks them to make more predictions; however, Macbeth is startled to hear them. – Banquo is also indifferent to the prophecies (“neither beg nor fear”). He is not afraid of the predictions, not will he let them consume him.- The difference between the characters of Macbeth and Banquo becomes apparent.
“And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,The instruments of darkness tell us truths,Win us with honest trifles, to betray’sIn deepest consequence.” – Banquo says this to Macbeth after the latter is names Thane of Cawdor- This quote foreshadows what eventually happens to Macbeth. Even though the witches predicted amazing things for him, they only told him half the truth.- Adds to the idea of Macbeth not thinking things through before doing them, because he relies too heavily on what the witches told him. – This quote explains how the prophecies ignite Macbeth’s Ambition. – This quote is sort of a prophecy on Banquo’s part. Macbeth ignored Banquo’s prophecy and instead believed the witches’ predictions. It shows Macbeth’s true character in that he had an ultimate flaw of being consumed by his ambition.
“If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me.” – Macbeth says this to himself (aside) after he has been names Thane of Cawdor. – This quote contrasts the person Macbeth was before and after the murder. – Although he is saying that he will be crowned king by “chance”, Macbeth’s ambition is starting to come into play here. He is putting his future in fate’s hands – but we see later on that he blames and relies on fate for what happened.
“Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires.” – Macbeth says this to the stars (or to himself) after Duncan announces that his son Malcolm will be the next king. – Macbeth is upset because he now has two obstacles in his way of becoming king. He plans on killing Duncan and thinks he’ll probably have to kill off Malcolm as well, so he’s telling the stars to dim their bright lights so that it doesn’t reveal his evil desires. – Macbeth is referring to the darkest parts of his soul, and he’s afraid someone will see through him, and reveal his evil side.
“Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt beWhat thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too 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.” – Lady macbeth says this to herself after reading Macbeth’s letter (in the original, she is addressing Macbeth, but he isn’t actually there). This is said directly to Macbeth in the BBC version.- In the letter, Macbeth tells his wife about all the things that the future might bring them. Lady Macbeth believes that this will-and should-all come true, however Macbeth is too full of the “milk of human kindness”, in other words, he doesn’t have the mean streak to do anything. She says that he isn’t lacking ambition but “the illness should attend it”, the ability to carry out something mean. – “milk” refers to nursing a baby. She says this to essentially describe Macbeth to be child-like, innocent, and afraid to do anything that is unkind. But she says this as if it is a problem. – Note: in old english, Ambition is the excessive desire for honor, power, wealth (has a negative connotation to it)- Here it also seems as if she wants Macbeth to be king for her own, selfish desires for wealth and power.
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! – Said by Lady Macbeth to the spirits (or herself) after a servant has just told Lady Macbeth that her husband and the king will be coming to her home. – Lady Macbeth wants to lose her feminine characteristics/emotions and be more like a man. She thinks that this attitude will prepare her mentally for the murder of the king. – She calls on the spirits to her replace her milk with gall (bile), hoping to bring death (which is the opposite of what a woman is meant to bring). Lady Macbeth hopes that nothing will stop her from murdering the king and she asks darkness to take over her and stop her from feeling pity. – This shows how much she wants to kill Duncan. She is willing to give up everything – her humanity, her sanity, and her womanhood – to be taken over by the evil spirits and not hesitate when killing the king. It shows how purely evil Lady Macbeth truly is. Perhaps she is the channel of the evil that is harvested in Macbeth.- The quote is foreshadowing her future insanity (since she opened up to evil spirits).
“Look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under it.” – Said by Lady Macbeth to Macbeth after the latter informs his wife that king Duncan will be staying at their house. – She says that he will never leave (because he’ll be dead) and tells Macbeth to hide the emotions on his face. She says that Macbeth, to deceive his guests, must appear welcoming in every way and look like “an innocent flower” but be like the snake that hides underneath it. – This adds to the central theme of deception and “nothing is as it seems” – or “Fair is foul and foul is fair”. – Lady Macbeth’s imperative tone shows how much power and control she has over her husband. It seems, interestingly enough, that she actually represents the Ambition that takes over Macbeth.
“I dare do all that may become a man;Who dares do more, is none.” – Said by Macbeth to Lady Macbeth after she calls him a coward tries to convince him to stick to the murder plan.- Macbeth tells his wife that he will only do what is proper for a man to do, and that anyone who does more is not a man at all (he thinks it is not proper to kill the king, so he does not want to do it). – Lady Macbeth believes that being courageous and being a man means not being afraid of taking what you want; however, Macbeth believes manhood means being responsible and resisting the temptation to do what you want (for yourself). – He is saying that he can only hope to do things that will make him a man – someone of strength and honor and integrity, most likely. This does not include killing the King, as doing so would make him less of a man. – He says that if he has to do more to prove that he is a man to anyone else, he would become even less of a man. → he shouldn’t “wear anything on his sleeve” (don’t show off or push the fact that you have or are something, as it takes away from who you are).
“I have given suck, and knowHow tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:I would, while it was smiling in my face,Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn As you have done to this.” – Said by Lady Macbeth to Macbeth.- After Lady Macbeth finally convinces her husband to kill King Duncan, he reconsiders and backs down. He doesn’t believe it’s right to kill the man who has always treated him fairly. However, Lady Macbeth believes he is being a coward and says that he is not being manly enough and is letting fear take him over. – theme: ambition guided by selfishness; being taken over by ambition (manipulated by his wife). In essence, Lady Macbeth represents the false ambition that takes over the self. – Lady Macbeth is manipulating her husband, since she is saying that she would give up all motherly instinct in order to do what is best for the both of them (would sacrifice her own child). – She is saying that if she did have a baby and had made such a promise (as Macbeth did), she would have followed through with it. If she had agreed to do it, she would have killed her own baby.- She’s Saying this to aggravate Macbeth by showing how his apprehensiveness is unmanly, even compared to her. She is stronger than him; more than a man than him.
“Was the hope drunk Wherein you dress’d yourself? hath it slept since? And wakes it now, to look so green and pale At what it did so freely?” – Lady Macbeth says this to Macbeth- Macbeth is not so sure if he wants to kill King Duncan anymore, mostly because the King has honored him and treated him kindly. He is in a good place and doesn’t want to jeopardize his position of power. Lady Macbeth is trying to convince him to go through with it, and she is, to an extent, insulting him for changing his mind so easily.- Theme: This passage seems to tie in the idea of gender inequality. Lady Macbeth, by acting fearless and strong, is seen as the more courageous and bold one of the two. She can’t believe that the same man who came before her and agreed to the plan is the same one standing in front of her. The person standing before her is “green and pale”/sickly and isn’t thinking straight. Also, in saying this, Lady Macbeth is questioning her husband’s ability to rule. If he isn’t able to make a decision and stand by it, then he will not go very far as King. – This shows how much power and control Lady Macbeth she has over her husband. – She taunts him with a variety of techniques. She blackmails him by questioning his love to her by comparing it to a drunken promise in saying “Was the hope drunk” She then goes on to call him cowardly by longing for something but then not following through in his actions. This is reinforced in her telling him that she is braver than him and would respect and keep promises (baby quote).
“Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other senses, Or else worth all the rest” – Said by Macbeth during his soliloquy- Said when Macbeth is about to kill king duncan, and he sees an imaginary dagger that is covered in blood.- Theme: Versions of Reality. Emphasizes the idea that people in the play can’t trust anyone – even themselves (their friends could also be enemies and stab them in the back). Macbeth is so paranoid at that point that he doesn’t know if his sight is playing tricks on him or if he can trust what he is seeing. The Supernatural is also a theme. – Tone: Confused, panicked, nervous, worried (is made a “fool” by his own senses) – Macbeth sees a dagger covered in blood “leading him” to Duncan’s room. So, Macbeth thinks that the apparition must mean that this is what he must do and that it’s his destiny to kill the king (since blood starts to appear on the dagger). He then goes on to debate with himself if he really should murder the king, trying to convince himself there is no dagger there and that it’s the thought of murder that has made this apparition appear. – This is perhaps when Macbeth was at the brink of losing himself. He realizes what he is doing, and sees that he is going crazy and about to kill Duncan, but instead he trusts his eyes over his other senses, and thus sees the dagger as a reminder that he knows what he is doing. It reassures him and thus leads him to finally kill the king.
“To show an unfelt sorrow is an officeWhich the false man does easy.” – Said by Malcolm to Donalbain.- After Duncan is killed, the two brothers are considering running away. They know that they are in trouble, especially since they are next in line to the throne, and don’t want to end up like their father. – This is said after Macduff finds Duncan murdered and Banquo suggests that they all go get ready to calm their fears and doubts and then they’ll meet to discuss what to do next. After everyone leaves, the two brothers decide to run away to England & Ireland. Malcolm says that they shouldn’t stay with these men because they don’t actually feel sorrow over their father’s death. Since they don’t know who the murderer is, they don’t trust any of them and want to flee. – Translation: It is simple for a person (liar) to fake sorrow when he doesn’t actually feel any. – Theme: Corrupting power. In several cases we have observed this idea, especially in the beginning when the traitor (thane of Cawdor) is ousted. At the time, everyone was very shocked that such a powerful man could turn out to betray them all and wage war against them. However, over time we realize that the same thing is happening with Macbeth. He is putting on a loyal face, but is plotting behind the scenes. The quote shows that in the end, all people are double faced and evil underneath the surface.
“Alack, I am afraid they have awaked,And ’tis not done. The attempt and not the deed confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready; He could not miss ’em. Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had don’t.” – Said by Lady Macbeth to herself- After letting Macbeth go off and commit the crime, Lady Macbeth awaits his return. – Translation: I am afraid that the guards woke up and that Macbeth wasn’t able to carry out the deed. Trying to kill the King and not succeeding would ruin us. I put the guard’s daggers where Macbeth would find them; he could not have missed them. If the King hadn’t reminded me of my father as he slept, I would have killed him myself. → Theme: Ambition. Lady Macbeth thinks that not succeeding in killing the King would ruin them, but in the end, it’s succeeding that ruins them (irony!). If they hadn’t strived to murder the King so Macbeth (& Lady Macbeth) would be powerful, then they wouldn’t be at risk of being “ruined”. – First time that we see Lady Macbeth as weak and afraid. Although she is continuously encouraging Macbeth to kill the King, because he is supposed to be the man, she always makes it sound as though she is mentally stronger than he is (eg. would kill her own baby). However, here she admits that she actually wouldn’t have been able to kill Duncan because he resembles her dad. She is all bark and no bite. – Foreshadows how the murder has already begun changing Lady Macbeth; she’s already become more worrisome and nervous and “weak” and it seems as if she’s already beginning to become mentally unstable by ranting to herself. – She uses the fact that king Duncan “resembled her father” as an excuse for why she didn’t kill him herself even though she wanted him dead more than anyone else. She is trying to calm herself down and make excuses for everything. It shows how, from now on in the plot, she does not have much of a role in controlling Macbeth. She is becoming weaker, and more nervous while the strength and responsibility ended up on Macbeth’s shoulders.
“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” – Said by Macbeth to Lady Macbeth- Right after Macbeth murders Duncan and he’s talking to his wife about the murder and how he thought he heard noises/voices. – Theme: Time – everything comes to a stop when King Duncan is murdered – even sleep. – Translation: I thought I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more! Macbeth is murdering sleep.” Innocent sleep. Sleep that soothes away all our worries. Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds. Sleep, the main course in life’s feast, and the most nourishing.- It seems as if the murder is already affecting Macbeth and the action of actually killing Duncan (in comparison to the planning and debating) has tipped him over the edge; the guilt is already eating at him. – – Sleep is innocent because when you’re sleeping, you’re just peacefully dreaming so when you kill someone in their sleep, I think it’s worse since they don’t even suspect anything. From “murdering sleep”, you’ve killed the thing that “soothes away all our worries…puts each day to rest…relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds.” It’s something pure and real. It’s “the main course in life’s feast, and the most nourishing”. This also foreshadows how because he murdered sleep, he will sleep no more (the nightmares and guilty conscience). – Also, sleep signifies a fresh start and a new day. It serves as a transition between night and day. When you sleep, you are able to put all your troubles to rest and start anew. However, because Macbeth has murdered sleep, people will not be able to forget about this tragedy (King’s murder – can’t relax and “put all their troubles to rest”) and in a way, The King will also not be waking up again (quite literally). – By killing Duncan, Macbeth also lost himself – he lost his innocence and everything he used to be. He cannot live the way he used to – he can no longer go to sleep as now he must relive the murder over and over again.
“Nought’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.” – Said by Lady Macbeth to Macbeth- A few days after he had killed King Duncan, Macbeth was feeling guilty, and was worried about suspicions from Banquo. – Translation → if you get what you want, and you’re still not happy, you’ve spent everything and gained nothing. It’s better to be the one killed than to live in guilt. – Related to the what’s done is done quote because they can’t do anything about it anymore. They’ve already killed Duncan, what’s the use of beating yourself up over it?→ Because they rhyme, her lines sound a bit like proverbial folk wisdom. The first rhyme expresses a common experience, which is that if we get what we want, but aren’t happy with it, we really don’t have it. The second rhyme deepens the thought by saying that it would be better to be dead than to feel what Lady Macbeth is now feeling. She and her husband destroyed King Duncan, who is now safe from all the world’s problems. In contrast, the lady and her husband live in “doubtful joy.” In Shakespeare’s time the word “doubt” was commonly used to mean “suspicion” or “fear,” and Macbeth and his wife live in fear that their guilt will be discovered, and suspicion that the witches’ prophecy about Banquo will come true.
“There’s daggers in men’s smiles.” – Said by Donalbain to Malcom- Duncan has been murdered, and the princes decide to flee to England and Ireland (continuation of “to show an unfelt sorrow is an office…”)- Translation → Wherever we go, men will smile at us while hiding daggers. Our closest relatives are the ones most likely to murder us.- Although men may smile at them, they will be secretly hiding daggers in order to kill them and gain the throne. So, they can trust no one, not even their relatives, as they are the ones more likely to kill them. This contributes to the two-faced theory and also relates to the corrupting power theme. People want power so badly that they are willing to kill (even their own flesh and blood) for it.- Theme: deception; alternate realities- The most dangerous enemies are the ones that hide their bad feelings and bad intentions towards you. – “Smile”: an artificially wide smile, a “big fake” smile, is one of the kinds of smile that exposes the part of the mouth where the teeth begin to look jagged, and more dagger-like, unlike the front cutting teeth which have flat bottoms.- It is also literal in the sense that the princes are surrounded by courtiers who act kindly toward them after their father’s death…. but among these loyal friends are hidden traitors who desperately want the throne, and will literally STAB them to get it. → Since they don’t know who is dangerous and who is safe, ALL of the smiles are scary.
“To be thus is nothing; But to be safely thus.” – Said by Macbeth to Himself when Banquo has just set off to go riding and Macbeth is planning to kill him. – Translation → To be the king is nothing if I’m not safe as the king. I’m very afraid of Banquo. There’s something noble about him that makes me fear him. He’s willing to take risks, and his mind never stops working. He has the wisdom to act bravely but also safely. I’m not afraid of anyone but him. Around him, my guardian angel is frightened, just as Mark Antony’s angel supposedly feared Octavius Caesar.- Macbeth suspects that Banquo knows that he murdered Duncan, so he’s worried he’s not safe as Banquo might tell someone. – The perception of a king is someone that is all-powerful, so if a king is unsafe, then the whole idea of what a king represents is corrupted. Because Banquo is the one that might know of his horrific deed, though, makes it worse. “There’s something noble about him that makes me fear him. He’s willing to take risks, and his mind never stops working. He has the wisdom to act bravely but also safely. I’m not afraid of anyone but him.” He compares Banquo and him to Mark Antony and Caesar so he’s worried the same will happen to him. Macbeth is also bitter about how, though he has the crown now, Banquo will be the one to give birth to a line of kings. He thinks that this will make murdering Duncan and “torturing his conscience” all for naught – all for Banquo’s sons. As he continues, he begins to get more and more angry. “I’ve ruined my own peace for their benefit. I’ve handed over my everlasting soul to the devil so that they could be kings. Banquo’s sons, kings!” This is when he resolutely decides to kill Banquo. “Instead of watching that happen, I will challenge fate to battle and fight to the death.”It is no good being king except if one is secure in that position, and since Banquo is by nature royal, as Macbeth is not, Macbeth fears that Banquo poses a threat. There is no rational cause for Macbeth to feel so; Banquo nowhere manifests the desire to do the sort of deed Macbeth has done, but Macbeth does not know that, and, moreover, not having done murdered Duncan wholly willingly (his wife had to push him into it), and thinking that he could also be murdered, projects his fears onto Banquo. This is an early stage of his paranoia.- This shows just how much power and ambition has got to Macbeth’s head. He’s resorted to killing his own best friend in order to keep the crown, for himself, and for all his generations after. This epitomizes the “corrupting power of unchecked ambition”; he’s become power-crazy. It also begins his shift from king to tyrant as he’s beginning to sentence unlawful murders and abuse his power.
“What’s done is done.” – Said by Lady Macbeth to Macbeth- Lady Macbeth says this in an attempt to keep her husband calm, as he is having trouble with his guilty conscience constantly reminding him that he killed the king. – Her words are self-explanatory: lady Macbeth simply means that the crime is done and there is no taking it back, so the couple should move on from the past. It is funny that Lady Macbeth, the main conspirator, should say this because later in the play, she is the one who is driven insane by her guilty conscience. She begins to sleepwalk and talks about the crime as if it were recently committed.
“This is the very painting of your fear:This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts,Impostors to true fear, would well becomeA woman’s story at a winter’s fire,Authorized by her grandam.” – Said by Lady Macbeth to Macbeth during the big dinner with all the nobles. The murderers have returned, informing Macbeth that Banquo is dead. Macbeth is so consumed with guilt that he believes he’s seeing Banquo’s ghost sitting on a stool and begins to panic in front of everyone. Lady Macbeth comes to talk to Macbeth to figure out what’s wrong, snap him out of it, and to stop him from saying incriminating things- Lady Macbeth is once again manipulating Macbeth by questioning his manhood. She scolds him by first asking if he’s a man and when he confirms, she goes on to say that he’s acting like a woman. She believes these visions are a sign of weakness – visions he sees only when he’s afraid – and she scorns him for having them and for believing in them (it’s not even real fear because these hallucinations aren’t real). It’s clear that she is embarrassed by her husband but also is worried he might reveal what they have done so she continuously tries to quiet him and persuade the nobles this is a normal occurrence. Interestingly enough is the fact that although Lady Macbeth is criticizing his masculinity because he’s seeing ghosts, she too begins to see visions (sleepwalking), so that doesn’t that make her weak as well? – She does her best to play the part of a good hostess but throughout the entire scene, she is struggling to be in control of the situation and regain her composure after her husband’s continued outbursts nearly betray them both. She has no guilt or remorse for any action (in this scene) but is obviously angry, scornful, confused and behaves like a typical wife would in such a situation. She rebukes her husband strongly in several places and further emasculates him as she is prone to do throughout the play. She is always the one in control, or at least the one trying to keep control of the situation.- Translation – “This is just another one of the hallucinations you always get when you’re afraid. This is like that floating dagger you said was leading you toward Duncan. These outbursts of yours don’t even look like real fear. They’re more like how you would act if you were a woman telling a scary story by the fireside in front of her grandmother.”
“And you all know, security Is mortals’ chiefest enemy.” – Said by Hecate to the Witches.- Hecate appears before the Witches and demands to know why she has been excluded from their meetings with Macbeth. She tells them Macbeth will be back to know his destiny and she proclaims that he will see apparitions that will, “by the strength of their illusion” lead him to conclude that he is safe. – Translation → He will be fooled into thinking he is greater than fate, he will mock death, and he will think he is above wisdom, grace, and fear. As you all know, overconfidence is man’s greatest enemy. – Hecate is saying that Macbeth’s belief that he is untouchable will ultimately result in his downfall; his false hopes of being indestructible will be his undoing. → our desire for insecurity is the thing that leads us to be insecure. Feeling overconfident is what leads us astray, for we believe in ourselves and our safety so much that we lose sight of and disregard everything else.- Adds to the theme of Ambition taking over; deception/false realities.
“Out, damned spot! out, I say!” – Said by Lady Macbeth to Herself when she sleepwalks, the night before Macbeth’s battle with Macduff. – Earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth was the one who convinced her husband to kill the king and then told him that “A little water clears us of this deed.” Now, her guilt and fear are causing her to sleepwalk and to constantly see her hands stained with blood. The “spot” she is talking about is blood, which represents guilt. When Macbeth killed the king, he heard a voice say that he was murdering sleep. Clearly, he has murdered it because neither he nor his wife are capable of sleeping soundly. When Lady Macbeth says this, she is being watched by a doctor and her maid, who eventually understand that she and Macbeth are the ones who killed the king. – Soon after she says this quote, she also says, “But who would have thought the old man would have had so much blood in him?” This adds to the guilt that she is feeling because she seems like she didn’t know how terrible the consequences would have been before she plotted to kill the King. “So much blood” or the “spot” that was not leaving could also refer to how many deaths his death led to.
“Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,Raze out the written troubles of the brainAnd with some sweet oblivious antidoteCleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuffWhich weighs upon the heart? “ – Said by Macbeth to the Doctor- Macbeth has just been told that 10,000 English soldiers are coming towards the castle so he’s putting on his armor (even though he doesn’t have to at that moment), when he asks the doctor how his wife is doing. The doctor replies that she’s not sick, but troubled with visions that prevent her from sleeping. That’s when Macbeth speaks these words, in which he’s basically saying (according to no fear shakespeare) “Cure her of that. Can’t you treat a diseased mind? Take away her memory of sorrow? Use some drug to erase the troubling thoughts from her brain and ease her heart?”. The doctor famously replies, “Therein the patient must minister to himself”, meaning that it’s up to Lady Macbeth to heal herself because this is not something medicine can heal (a physician cannot treat one’s conscience with the same medicine he uses to heal the body). Bitterly, Macbeth rants about physicians and scorns medicine as they are unable to cure his wife (and him). – Macbeth is asking if the doctor can cure his wife of a diseased mind, not only for her, but for himself I think. He also wants to take away the sorrow and ease his heart as he too is unable to sleep well. He believes that if they could just be cured, they wouldn’t be plagued with the guilt of murdering the king anymore and they could just be happy with their power and their ambition coming true. I think Macbeth also feels guilty for his wife’s mental illness, as if he brought this onto her since he knows she has visions of murdering the king (guilty conscience), so he feels compelled to treat her and return her to normal. – Macbeth will suit up in his armor and put the sword to his enemies, treating them as if they were his disease, and as if routing them were the cure for his guilt. – Internally, perhaps, Macbeth wants a way out of feeling guilt so there would no longer be so much chaos and destruction.
“Those he commands move only in command,Nothing in love: now does he feel his titleHang loose about him, like a giant’s robeUpon a dwarfish thief.” – Said by Angus to Menteith, Caithness, Angus, Lennox, and other soldiers (on Malcolm’s side). – A group of soldiers are discussing where they’re going to meet Malcolm and his soldiers when Menteith asks what “the tyrant Macbeth” is doing. Caithness replies, “He is fortifying his castle at Dunsinane. Some say he’s insane. Those who hate him less call it brave anger. One thing is certain: he’s out of control.” Then, Angus speaks the words above. Menteith asks who can blame Macbeth for going crazy, though, when he condemns himself for everything he has done (which is quite a lot of brutality). As they continue marching to Birnam wood, the soldiers say they’re going to give their loyalty to someone who deserves it (Malcolm) and that they are willing to give however much blood is needed to put Malcolm on the throne – So, the first part of the quote is “Now does he feel his secret murders sticking on his hands. Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach.” This means that Macbeth is finally realizing all the blood he has shed (murders he has committed) and now all the rebel armies are punishing him (by attacking). He goes on to say that the soldiers he commands do not fight for him out of love, but out of orders (unlike Malcolm’s troops). So, Macbeth should feel how the king’s robes are too loose (don’t fit him – aren’t meant for him) showing that Macbeth is too “small” to be a great king and will never be as great as his predecessor. That’s when Angus makes the analogy of a dwarf (thieving dwarf since Macbeth stole the crown) trying to wear the robes of a giant.
“I gin to be aweary of the sun, And wish the estate o’ the world were now undone. Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! come, wrack! At least we’ll die with harness on our back.” – Said by Macbeth to himself/the messenger right after the queen has committed suicide and Macbeth has spoken the “to-morrow” passage. A messenger enters and tells Macbeth that Birnam forest is moving towards the castle.- Translation → And now a wood is coming to Dunsinane. Prepare for battle, and go! If what this messenger says is true, it’s no use running away or staying here. I’m starting to grow tired of living, and I’d like to see the world plunged into chaos. Ring the alarms! Blow, wind! Come, ruin! At least we’ll die with our armor on.- Macbeth right away calls the messenger a liar and slave as he does not want to believe it’s true since that is one of the prophecies that will lead to his downfall. Macbeth says that if the messenger is lying, he will hang him from a tree until he dies of hunger, but if he’s telling the truth, then the messenger can do it to him instead. Macbeth then begins to talk to himself, saying that his confidence is falling because he had been told not to fear until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane, and now the wood is coming. Yet, he realizes he can’t run away or stay here, so the only thing left to do is prepare for battle. This is when he says the above quote. He’s saying that he’s growing tired of living and he would like to see the world in complete chaos. He then shouts to ring the alarms and start getting ready for battle, as at least they’ll die with their armor on. This is kind of like his “last stand speech”. He knows he’s going to die so he’s mentally convincing himself he’s ready and that he should die courageously in battle. – Macbeth has no way out, and this adds to the idea of chaos and nothing mattering in the world. At heart, Macbeth doesn’t care for living anymore. He has gone completely insane. All he wants is his life to end in chaos and battle.
“Accursed be that tongue that tells me so,For it hath cow’d my better part of man!And be these juggling fiends no more believed,That palter with us in a double sense;That keep the word of promise to our ear,And break it to our hope. I’ll not fight with thee.” – Macbeth says this to Macduff while they are in the heat of their duel when Macbeth finds out that Macduff is not woman-born (he was cut out of his mother’s tomb). He realizes the three prophecies have been fulfilled and he is at risk of dying. Because of this, he feels tricked by the witches. – As soon as Macduff tells Macbeth this, Macbeth realizes that now, he is in actual danger of dying (not invulnerable anymore) and loses his bravado, deciding to stop fighting. He believes the witches have betrayed him by not telling him the whole truth, now understanding what Banquo meant in quote #3. However, his ego won’t allow him to surrender and basically says he would rather fight against all odds than to bow to Malcolm or be taunted by commoners. This again goes back to the questioning of Macbeth’s masculinity as he feels he needs to prove himself, not only as man, but as a king. – This is essentially the fall of Macbeth. Everything he thought was true this entire time had become false. His ambition had been run completely on false ideas and now he is insane and his world as he knows it is in chaos. – Translation → Curse you for telling me this. You’ve frightened away my courage. I don’t believe those evil creatures anymore. They tricked me with their wordgames, raising my hopes and then destroying them. I won’t fight you.

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