Macbeth Act 2

“Had he not resembled/ My father as he slept, I had done ‘t.” Speaker: Lady Macbeth (soliloquy)Situation: While Macbeth is murdering Duncan. Literal meaning: Lady Macbeth could have killed him if he hadn’t looked like her father.Significance: Although Lady Macbeth has asked evil spirits to take away her feminine qualities, she reveals here a softer, more feminine side to her nature than she has shown so fair. Notice it’s a soliloquy, and when Macbeth begins to weaken, she is strong and resolute.
“Methought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep”- the innocent sleep Sleep 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 curse, Chief nourisher in life’s feast- Still it cried “Sleep no more!” to all the house: “Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor Shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more.” Speaker: Macbeth Situation: Right after the murderFigurative Language and its meaning: Sleep-innocent (open to those in a state of innocence) (35)Sleep repairs the tangled threads of our sleeves (our cares) that we damage during our waking hours(36)Sleep ends the day-it’s the death of life during the day (37)Sleep is the restorative and comfort after the hard labor of the day (37)Sleep is what soothes or heals our troubled minds (38)Sleep the main course in life (as if life were a meal with several courses) (39)Here Shakespeare gives us a famous description of sleep as he has Macbeth recount the voices he heard after killing Duncan, which say he will never sleep again I prophecy which may have been true.Lines 41-42: Glamis, an identity Macbeth has had for awhile, his ancestral title, has done this deed that has taken away his innocence so that now he will have no sleep as he takes on his new title of Thane of Cawdor which he already was has murdered any hope of peace in his new role.
“Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas of incarnadine, Making the green one red.” Speaker: Macbeth Situation: Right after the murder as Lady Macbeth returns the daggers Paraphrase: Can I ever be clear of the blood of this murder? No! If I try to wash the blood off, all the water of the world will turn to blood. Significance: This reveals that Macbeth obviously feels remorse for what he has done.
“A little water clears us of this deed:/ How easy is it then!” Speaker: Lady MacbethSituation: To Macbeth after she has returned the daggers and descends the steps with bloody hands.Notice how different her reaction to the blood is from Macbeth’s reactionParaphrase: All we need to do is wash our hands, and no one will be able to blame us. Significance: Her attitude seems so practical, so matter of fact. Remember the earlier comment about her father. It could be that she puts on a brave face to prevent Macbeth from breaking down emotionally. We will see later the emotional cost of having smeared blood from Duncan’s corpse on the guards.
“Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had lived a blessed time; for from this instant There’s nothing serious in morality, 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.” Speaker: Macbeth Situation: Duncan’s murder has been discovered.Literal meaning: If I had died before the death of my great king, I would have thought of my life as a great one, but now that our king is dead, the best of life is gone. Irony: These words apply particularly to Macbeth, although at this point the nobles do not know it. If Macbeth had died before he had killed Duncan, presumably he would have lived a relatively innocent life and would not be damned to hell. Now that he is damned, what matters in life? Lines 96-97: All goodness has become impossible for him, and all that’s left of his life is like the sludge at the bottom of red wine, worthless.
“Where we are/ There’s daggers in men’s smiles; the near in blood,/ The nearer bloody.” Speaker: DonalbainSituation: Right after Duncan’s murderParaphrase: The closer we are in relation to Duncan, the closer we are to becoming bloody ourselves. Figurative language: Daggers in men’s smiles, daggers=dangers
“Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all As the weird women promised and I fear Thou play’dst most foully for it.” Speaker: BanquoSituation: Soon after Macbeth becomes KingSignificance: This soliloquy shows the audience that Banquo has suspicions about how Macbeth has become King.
“Fail not our feast.” Speaker: MacbethSituation: To Banquo, soon after becoming KingLiterally: Macbeth is reminding Banquo of his accepted presence at Macbeth’s first state banquet.Ironically: Macbeth will try to prevent Banquo’s attendance and Banquo will attend anyways.
“To be thus is nothing, but ti be safely thus-“ Speaker: MacbethSituation: Soliloquy, soon after Macbeth becomes KingLiterally: Macbeth is saying to be King has no value unless he can make sure his guilt won’t be revealed. The line reveals the despair he feels at having reached his desired position in a manner that makes it impossible for him to feel content.
“Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown And put a barren scepter in my gripe. Thence to be wretched with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding. If’t be so, For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind: For them in gracious Duncan have I murdered, Put rancors in the vessel of my peace Only for them, and mine eternal jewel Given to the common enemy of man, To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings! Rather than so, come, fate, into the list And champion to me to th’ utterance!” Speaker: MacbethSituation: Soliquey, right after becoming KingMeaning: His crown and scepter (symbols of his kingship) will not result in his own children in becoming king and the position will be taken by someone not in my immediate family. I have dirtied or defiled my mind in order to put Banquo’s children on the throne. I have caused myself anxiety and I have given my soul to the devil to benefit Banquo’s children. To prevent that from happening, I will invite fate into the arena and fight with me in single combat until the death. Significance: list= the combat arena at a tournament “uttermost”= the uttermost or to the bitter end
“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.” Speaker: Lady MacbethSituation: Soliloquy, soon after she becomes QueenParaphrase: Nothing’s gained, but you’ve given everything when you get what you want but you are not at peace it would be better to be dead Duncan than by his death to live in insecure happiness. Significance: She’s making general statement here on the depth of her depression and what she has already learned through her sins and sufferings as she envies the man she helped to murder.
“We have scotched the snake, not killed it: She’ll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice remains in danger for her former tooth.” Speaker: MacbethSituation: Talking to Lady Macbeth soon after becoming KingParaphrase: We have injured the snake, not destroyed it. It will heal and we will continue to be in danger of it. The snake stands for enemies of Macbeth
“Come, seeling night, Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day, and with thy bloody and invisible hand cancel and tear to pieces that great bond Which keeps me pale! Light thickens, and the crow Makes wind to th’ rooky wood. Good things of day begin to droop and drowse, Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse. Thou marvel’st at my words: but I hold thee still; things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.” Speaker: Macbeth Situation: To Lady Macbeth soon after becoming KingSignificance: Macbeth asks for eye-closing night to come and blindfold the dun that might take pity on Banquo. The word “seeling” refers the sewing a falcon’s eyes shut as part of their training. Let the night with its evil destroy Banquo’s lease on life. It’s getting dark and the black birds return to the forest. All that is good will be tired and sleep, but the evil things of the night will begin rise up and go after their victims. You are astonished at what I say, but remain quiet. Things that start in an evil way become stronger by move evil.
“It will have blood, they say: blood will have blood.” Speaker: MacbethSituation: After the banquet to Lady Macbeth Paraphrase: One murder calls out for more murders. Notice all of the blood imagery in the play-whose colors are black and red
“I am in blood Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” Speaker: MacbethSituation: After the banquet to Lady Macbeth Here Macbeth is in the middle of a river of blood whichever way he goes he will be as deeply in blood. If he confesses, he and his wife will be killed. This sense of fatalism and depression, of being unable to extricate himself from his sins, adds a somber tone to the rest of the play.