Macbeth Test Study Guide

“Yet do I fear thy nature, It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way.” This 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.” 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.” The ‘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 in fact the infant Macduff covered with the blood of the untimely ripped womb of his mother.
“There’s daggers in men’s smiles. The near in blood, The nearer bloody.” 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.” This 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” 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.”(100% ON TEST) This 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. “ This 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 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.
“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.
“what he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.” This eloquent description made by Duncan describes the situation in which Mcdonwald is killed for treason and macbeth achieves the position of thane of Cawdor. A common theme is noted in that a power is often turned over in that macbeth killing Duncan in that he wins the kings title and what macbeth ultimately looses Malcom wins.
“But tis strange. and often times, to win us to our harm the instruments of darkness tell us truths win us with honest trifles to betray us in deepest consequences.” Banquo, after he receives the news that Macbeth is thane of Cawdor, he notes describes the faustian bargain in that the darkness or ill thought of practices describe the truth of a person.
“I have given suck and know How tender ’tis the babe that milks me. I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from its boneless gums And dashed the brains out, had I sworn as you have done this.” Lady Macbeth notes her ruthlessness to macbeth giving reason to her cruelty towards her intention. The fact in that she is a grieving parent give justification to her ambition in killing Duncan.
“‘Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep’ the innocent sleep, sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care, The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath, balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast.” In this, Macbeth notes that he kills his sleep after he killed the beloved Duncan. One could argue, that macbeth is alluding to sleep as peace and tran
“Ay, in the catalogue you go for men, as hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs, Sloughs, water-rugs, and demi wolves are clept all by the name of dogs. The valued file distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle, the housekeeper, the hunter, everyone according to the gift which bounteous nature Hath in him closed; whereby he does not receive particular addition, from the bill that writes them all alike. And so of men now if you have a station in the file not i th worst rank of manhood say’t, and i will put that business in your bosoms whose execution takes your enemy off, grapples you ro the heart and love of us, who wear out health but sickly in his life, which in his death were perfect.” in this passage macbeth is talking to the murderers about Banquo and convincing them that he is their enemy and in doing this he questions their manhood, this is interesting in another aspect as earlier in the play when murdering duncan, Lady Macbeth challenged Macbeths manhood and thus this action was repeated.
“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, imposters to true fear, would well become a woman’s story at a winter’s fire, Authorized by her grandam.” In this description, lady macbeth is challenging gender roles and sanity when macbeth claims to see the ghost of Banquo. This notes that the degree of paranoia is returning with murdering someone.
“From this moment The very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand. And even now, to crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done” In this aside, Macbeth notes of is headfirst plunge into paranoia, in which he decides that he shall no longer be, in his own perception, placid but to act, perpetuating a male stereotype, in that he acts with an animalistic impulsive nature.
“Doctor, the thanes fly from me. – If thou couldst, doctor, cast the water of my land, find her disease And purge it to a sound and pristine health, I would applaud thee to the very echo that should applaud again.” In this Macbeth is recognizing that his country of Scotland is heading towards shambles and he calls to a doctor to fix the problem in his country. This alludes to the common theme of a doctor curing the sic thus macbeth realizes that Scotland is sick.
f 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.

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