Flashcards in Macbeth The Hero Deck (24)
'For brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name -'
Act I Scene 2 L16
Captain reporting Macbeth's heroic behaviour in battle, defending Duncan against Macdonald and the Norwegians.
Monosyllabic adjective choice and caesurae emphasise M's manly qualities; he is a model thane at this point in the play.
'like Valour's minion'
Act I Scene 2 L19
Captain reporting M's behaviour on the battlefield.
Simile means that M is Bravery's favourite; he fought heroically to kill Macdonald face to face, making him an exceptional soldier and a loyal thane to Duncan.
In tragedy, the hero begins in a high position and the audience watch his fall due to a flaw in his character.
'All hail Macbeth...' x3
Act I Scene 3 LL46-48
The witches to Macbeth, predicting the future.
Anaphora (repetition at start of sentence) emphasises M's rise to power and would make him feel important, appealing to his ambition.
In the 17th century the audience - including King James VI - believed in and persecuted witches as instruments of the Devil.
'Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor:
The greatest is behind.' ASIDE
Act I Scene 3 L115-6
The aside proves that M is already influenced by the witches' prediction that he will become king because he is hiding his true thoughts. The noblemen Ross and Angus have just brought the news that he has been granted the traitor Cawdor's title. Becoming Thane of Cawdor already gives him more power and land as a just reward for his bravery in battle.
Macbeth's flaw of ambition means that he is not satisfied and has become bewitched by the idea of more power as King of Scotland.
'horrible imaginings' ASIDE
Act I Scene 3 L137
Macbeth's mind is already influenced by the idea of becoming king. The adjective suggests that he is upset by the idea of killing Duncan, but is considering it nonetheless.
To kill a king was to kill God's representative on Earth: the worst treason imaginable. James VI had just survived the Gunpowder Plot to kill him, and therefore this subject was of great interest to Shakespeare's contemporary audience.
'Stars hide your fires,
Let not light see my black and deep desires.' ASIDE
Act I Scene 4 LL50-1
Duncan has been praising and rewarding Macbeth and Banquo but also names his son Malcolm, Prince of Cumberland, as his successor.
The monosyllabic adjective choice shows that Macbeth is now convinced that he will commit evil acts to become king as he will have to displace Malcolm.
Macbeth's evil asides contrast with Duncan's noble, honorable language showing the difference between good and evil.
'Yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.'
Act I Scene 5 LL14-6
Lady Macbeth about her husband, upon receiving his letter about the witches.
She is concerned that he is too honorable to do what is necessary to become King, which reminds us of the 'brave Macbeth' at the beginning of the play. 'Milk' is a feminine image.
In addition to the flaw of ambition, Macbeth also trusts and listens to his wife, who, according to 17th century belief, should be his inferior. Their marriage is unconventional and therefore Shakespeare shows the audience that this will lead to tragedy.
'We will speak further -'
Act I Scene 5 L68
Macbeth to Lady Macbeth after she has advised him to act innocently while she plans the murder of Duncan.
He is still not entirely convinced about killing Duncan but lets his wife interrupt him. He has heroically defended Duncan in battle, been rewarded, has considered what to do about Malcolm, but still has a conscience at this point. Although Lady Macbeth is about to take events into her own hands.
'If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly.'
Act I Scene 7
Scene starts with Macbeth's soliloquy, in which he argues with himself about murdering Duncan. He can think of many solid reasons not to commit regicide, showing that he is struggling with his conscience. The audience follows his thought process through the soliloquy, creating tension as he is just outside the Great Hall where a feast is being prepared for the king.
'We will proceed no further in this business.'
Act I Scene 7 L31
Macbeth to Lady Macbeth. He uses a simple statement to show that he has decided not to act: he wants to remain loyal and noble.
However, Lady Macbeth then begins to persuade him otherwise by insulting his manhood and appealing to his ambition.
Despite being a brave and heroic soldier, Macbeth is subject to his wife's persuasive tactics. She helps drive him to regicide. The natural order of the 17th century world is disturbed, leading to tragic consequences.
'I am settled and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.'
Act I Scene 7 LL79-80
The scene ends with Macbeth giving in to his wife. The adjective choice 'terrible' shows that he knows he is about to commit the worst act imaginable, but Lady Macbeth has helped convince him to do it.
We see the hero struggling with his conscience and his ambition and finally settling on his evil path to becoming king; women - the witches and his wife - have helped drive him to it. 17th century perspective: there is a Natural Order; disobeying that order leads to tragedy so it is best to accept one's place.
'Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle towards my hand?'
Act II Scene 1 LL33-4
Macbeth's second major soliloquy. It is night time at the castle. The dagger represents the idea of killing Duncan; Macbeth's mind is clearly disturbed. Where his first soliloquy in Act I was rational in tone, this speech is irrational. Macbeth is beginning his tragic fall from grace. Listening to the witches and his wife has upset the balance of his mind and will lead to bloodshed, treason, and tragedy.
'I could not say Amen.'
Act II Scene 2 L31
Macbeth to Lady Macbeth, after she has failed to go through with her plan to kill Duncan.
Religious lexis shows Macbeth knows that he is damned for what he has done; he has killed Duncan; there is no turning back; he is going to Hell. Despite committing the 'terrible feat', Macbeth still has a Christian conscience.
'The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.'
Act II Scene 4 L30
Ross to Macduff and the Old Man: because Malcolm and Donaldbain have fled, Macbeth will become king. The scene is set with descriptions of darkness and unusual events, emphasising the fact that Macbeth's ascent to the role of King is unnatural.
'To be thus is nothing,
But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo
Act III Scene 1 L49
Macbeth's third major soliloquy, in which he is now planning the murder of his former comrade Banquo. He is not satisfied by becoming king because he knows from the witches that Banquo's sons will become kings. Notable sibilance suggests the influence of evil.
The audience is now fully engaged in watching the violence and bloodshed.
'O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!'
Act III Scene 2
Macbeth to Lady Macbeth; Macduff is about to be murdered. The exclamation and the metaphor show the extent of Macbeth's psychological suffering. What he has done has poisoned his mind. 17th Century perspective: do not go against the Natural Order; do not disobey the 10 Commandments in the Bible. Anyone who does so will suffer horribly.
'I am cabined, cribbed, confined'
Act III Scene 4 L24
Macbeth to the murderers outside the banqueting hall upon hearing that Fleance has escaped.
The harsh c alliteration and triplet of adjectives show his anger and frustration; he has made evil choices to become King of Scotland but knows that his position is not secure.
Idea: this is part of the tragic hero's journey, from being noble and 'brave' he is now plagued with insomnia, madness and doubt. His downfall is commencing at the point when he holds his first royal banquet, which is ironic and satisfying for the audience to watch.
'The castle of Macduff I will surprise'
Act IV Scene 1 L149
Macbeth has returned to the Weird Sisters to seek more knowledge of the future, which shows that he is evil. As they warned him to 'Beware Macduff' he decides to slay Macduff's family. From brave and loyal soldier, he has become a murderer of innocent women and children, demonstrating his tragic fall. The audience will have no sympathy for him by Act IV; the final Act will seal his fate. This decision also provides Macduff with the motivation for revenge, seen in Act V.
Act V Scene 2 L11
Menteith to other lords; they are obeying Macbeth's orders to fight Malcolm and the English army out of fear rather than loyalty. A tyrant is a harsh and unfair king, in contrast to the way in which Duncan was portrayed at the beginning of the play.
17th century perspective: King James was a direct descendent of Duncan and Malcolm; Shakespeare is writing to please him and legitimise his place as King of Scotland and England, which used to be separate kingdoms.
'Then fly false thanes'
Act V Scene 3 L7
Reassured by the witches' prophesies, Macbeth sees that his army is deserting him. The imperative shows bravery: he is willing to stand alone and face his foes.
The audience eagerly anticipates the final battle, expecting justice to be done.
'Blow wind, come wrack;
At least we'll die with harness on our back.'
Act V Scene 5 LL50-1
Macbeth has been informed that Birnam Wood appears to be moving to Dunsinane (as the army have disguised themselves with branches). The rhyming couplet signals the end of the scene and strikes a heroic tone: having lost his wife, Macbeth is fully prepared to die in battle - reminding the audience of his bravery in Act I.
'They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly,
But bear-like I must fight the course.'
Act V Scene 6 LL1-2
Macbeth alone on stage before Siward enters and is killed.
The simile refers to the popular 17th century 'entertainment' of bear baiting. Macbeth realises that he is trapped but will fight on nonetheless, which is brave and heroic despite all the evil acts he has committed. The audience enjoyed watching bear baiting, as much as they will enjoy watching the ensuing violence.
'Why should I play the Roman fool and die
On mine own sword?'
Act V Scene 8
Macbeth alone on stage just before Macduff enters. The rhetorical question refers to ancient Roman generals, who committed suicide rather than facing the humiliation of defeat. Macbeth shows himself to be strong and singularly heroic even when the odds are against him.
The audience will be thrilled by this final scene of face-to-face fighting.