Macbeth Act 4&5

“Beware Macduff/ Beware the Thane of Fife.” Speaker: Armed HeadSituation: When Macbeth consults the witches Meaning: Ominous warning that Macduff could harm Macbeth. Notice how predictions are fulfilled throughout the play.
“Be bloody, bold, and resolute! Laugh to scorn/ The pow’r of man, for none of woman born/ Shall harm Macbeth.” Speaker: A bloody childSituation: When Macbeth consults the witchesMeaning: No person born of a woman can hurt you. Implies that no one can harm you, you are invincible/unbeatable.
“Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care/ Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:/ Macbeth shall never vanquished be until/ Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/ Shall come against him.” Speaker: A child crowned, holding a tree branch Tree branch=symbol of Malcolm Situation: When Macbeth consults the witchesMeaning: Don’t worry about people coming against you. Macbeth will be safe until the trees of Birnam Wood meet Dunsinane Hill, the sight of Macbeth’s castle.
“From this moment/ The very firstlings of my heart shall be/ The firstlings of my hand.” Speaker: MacbethSituation: When Macbeth learns that Macduff has gone to England Meaning: From now on I will do whatever I want without thinking about it. This reveals that Macbeth has become even more brutal and inhumane. Evil has had its effect
“Whither should I fly?/ I have done no harm. But I remember now/ I am in this earthly world, where to do harm/ Is often laudable, to do good sometime/ Accounted dangerous folly.” Speaker: Lady MacduffSituation: Before the murders arrive Paraphrase: Where should I do? I haven’t done anything wrong. Now I remember, here where I am to do evil is often rewarded and to be good is seen as dangerous. This is an example of moral ambiguity. The idea of fair is foul and foul is fair.
“Alas, poor country!/ Almost afraid to know itself! It cannot/ Be called our mother but our grave, where nothing/ But who knows nothing is once seen to smile;/ Where signs and groans, and shrieks that rent the air,/ Are made, not marked, where violent sorrow seems/ A modern ecstasy. The dead man’s knell/ Is there scare asked for who, and good men’s knell/ Is there scarce asked for who, and good men’s lives/ Expire before the flowers in their caps,/ Dying or ere they sicken.” Speaker: Ross Situation: When Ross arrives in England Paraphrase: Scotland is suffering and in fear. It no longer nourishes or feeds its people, but only provides a place for us to die. The only people who are happy are ignorant of what is going on. Screaming and crying are so common that no one notices. People can hardly keep track of all of the deaths. Good people die before the flowers they wear do, even before they get sick.
“O, I could play the woman with mine eyes,/ And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,/ Cut short all intermission; front to front/ Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;/ Within my sword’s length set him. If he ‘scape,/ Heaven forgive him too!” Speaker: MacduffSituation: Macduff just learned of the murder of his family Paraphrase: I could act like a woman and cry and brag about my revenge, but let time past quickly until I face Macbeth. If he escapes my sword, let him be forgiven (the last thing Macduff would want to happen).
“Yet here’s a spot./ 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 pow’r to/ accompt? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” Speaker: Lady Macbeth Situation: Sleepwalking sceneParaphrase: She tries to wash the blood from her hands and hears the bell that alerts Macbeth that it’s time to murder Duncan. She feels like she’s in the shadows of hell, which is why she wants a light on her at all times. She remembers talking Macbeth into going through with the murder when he had second thoughts.
“Foul whisp’ rings are abroad. Unnatural deeds/ Do breed unnatural troubles. Infected minds/ To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets./ More needs she the divine than the physician.” Speaker: DoctorSituation: Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene Paraphrase: Terrible rumors are circulating. Evil actions cause serious problems. Troubled people talk in their sleep. She needs religious help more than medical assistance.
“Now does he feel/ His secret murders sticking on his hands;/ Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach./ Those he commands move only in command,/ Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title/ Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe/ Upon a dwarfish thief.” Speaker: AngusSituation: As Scottish forces go to join the English forces surrounding Malcolm. Paraphrase: Macbeth feels the sticky blood on his fingers. Every minute nobles are rebelling against Macbeth’s evil reign. People only obey because they are forced to, not out of loyalty. Macbeth with his flawed character is not great enough to fulfill his role as king.
“I have lived long enough. My way of life/ Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf,/ And that which should accompany old age,/ As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,/ I must not look to have; but in their stead,/ Curses not loud but deep, mouth-honor, breath,/ Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.” Speaker: MacbethSituation: Before the battle Paraphrase: I’m ready to die. My life is like a withered leaf. I won’t have any of the pleasures that should come along with growing old: respect, people caring for you, obeying you, having many friends. Instead, people will hate me, only pretending to respect me out of fear.
“I have almost forgot the taste of fears:/ The time has been, my senses would have cooled/ To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair/ Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir/ As life were in’t. I have supped full with horrors./ Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,/ Cannot once start me.” Speaker: MacbethSituation: When he hears women cryingParaphrase: I hardly remember how to feel afraid. In the past, I would have been afraid to hear women crying out at night. My hair would stand on end when I heard a scary story. Now I have done so many horrible deeds that disaster cannot shock me.
“She should have died hereafter;/ There would have been a time for such a word./ Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow/ Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,/ To the last syllable of recorded time;/ And all our yesterdays have lighted fools/ The 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 tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/ Signifying nothing.” Speaker: MacbethSituation: After he hears of Lady Macbeth’s deathParaphrase & notice figurative language: It would have been better if she had died at a more convenient time when I could mourn her appropriately. The future just moves slowly along trivial paths until the end of time. All the past had been meaningless. Life is a short candle. Life is something with no substance. Life is a bad actor. Life is a story which makes no sense.
“The Thane of Fife had a wife. Where is/ she now? What, will these hands ne’er be clean? No/ more o’ that, my lord, no more o’ that! You mar all/ with this starting.” Speaker: Lady Macbeth Situation: Sleepwalking sceneParaphrase: She’s obviously heard about Lady Macduff’s death and feels there’s even more blood on her hands. She wants Macbeth to stop murdering, fearing he will ruin everything.
“Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the/ perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand./ Oh, oh, oh!” Speaker: Lady Macbeth Situation: Sleepwalking sceneParaphrase: She still smells blood on her hands.
“Wash your hands; put on your nightgown;/ look not so pale! I tell you yet again, Banquo’s/ buried. Ne cannot come out on ‘s grave.” Speaker: Lady Macbeth Situation: Sleepwalking sceneParaphrase: She remembers telling Macbeth to wash the blood off, put his night clothes on, and not look so guilty. Then she remembers Macbeth seeing Banquo’s ghost, it tells him it’s not possible that Banquo can return from the dead.
“To bed, to bed! There’s knocking at/ the gate. Come, come, come, come, give me your hand!/ What’s done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed!” Speaker: Lady Macbeth Situation: Sleepwalking sceneParaphrase: She remembers telling him to go to bed, because someone is knocking at the gate. They cannot change what they have done.

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