“Fair is foul and foul is fair, Hover through the fog and filthy air” • Characters: Witches• Themes: Supernatural, Fate•Trochaic Tetrameter – lends a mysterious tone and sounds as if a spell is being cast.• Chiasmus – points out the paradox and similarity between two terms – links to the impression Lady Macbeth gives “look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t”• Imagery – foreshadows downfall of Macbeth and the confusion that underlies the plot. Questions the moral goodness of any reality.
“And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s In deepest consequence” • Characters: Banquo• Themes : Violence, Fate and Ambition• Paradox – are the witches dictating the futures Macbeth and Banquo will have? Are they exploiting them?• Noun phrase “tell us truths” – nothing they can recount is false.• More Paradox – “Honest trifles” that “betray” – prophecies are genuine, but the components are insignificant. The “instruments of darkness” will use prophecies to manipulate him and Macbeth.• Suspicion – Banquo resists, Macbeth adheres – showing the belief that posits a worldwode view on humans acting freely from the influence of the supernatural.Shakespeare uses these two characters to present responses to supernatural presence: as maneuvering or merely recounting fate.
“Stars hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires” • Characters: Macbeth • Themes: Ambition, Violence, Supernatural and Deception• Noun phrase – “Stars, hide your fires” shows that Macbeth wishes to remain in complete darkness and invisible, so that his “deep desires” can not be observed.• Metaphors of “light” and “dark” – “dark” stands for Macbeths moral unscrupulousness. • “Light” is personified to be an active agent that can “see” into desires; possibly a supernatural force that scrutunizes human actions.• Macbeth may believe in a God-like figure who will judge his actions. His concern does not lie with views of other human beings, just for the supernatural – showing his impending allegiance to the supernatural – shows his guilt complex.
“Come, you spirits […] to cry, ‘hold, hold'” • Characters: Lady Macbeth• Themes: Supernatural, Ambition• In contrast with Banquo, who wants to avoid the supernatural, Lady Macbeth wants to embrace it. she wishes to cast off her feminism as she sees it as keeping her from committing vile actions “unsex me here” => Context about gender roles, women are innocent, men are powerful and in command.• “take my milk for gall” – a nurturing procedure used for something evil (gall = acid). • Constant references to body parts show that not only does Lady Macbeth want to cast off gender, but also all humanity – showing a paradoxical confirmation that there is an inherent goodness to human nature and Lady Macbeth wants it removed. • Humans may use the supernatural as a corruptive path away from goodness – Banquo subverts this and runs to goodness.
“Look like th’innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t” •Characters: Lady Macbeth• Themes: Violence and Deception• Passive image “innocent flower” juxtaposes active corruption of “the serpent”, reflecting the ideas of “fair” and “foul” in Act 1, Scene 1. Distinction is not a predicament, but becomes a specific strategy to gain political power.• Relate to biblical allusions – Garden of Eden. Is especially evocative as Lady Macbeth is engaged in supernatural paganism; she is asking her husband symbolically to strike out against Christian ideals – role of biblical villain?• Was also a medal given to Foilers of the Gunpowder Plot – Parallels between History and Play?
“I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’other -“ • Characters: Macbeth• Themes: Ambition• Verb “spur” – shows clear impetus for committing the murder• Noun phrase “vaulting ambition” – more generalised. Macbeth is keenly aware of his motivations and is not instantly convinced by the desire. • “prick the sides” – it is a narrow stimulus; and has a direct casual effect on his intent.
“I dare do all that may become a man” • Characters: Macbeth• Themes: Gender, Ambition• Verb “dare” – presents manhood as adventurous• noun phrase “who dares do more” – Macbeth describes manhood as a limit for actions whereas Lady Macbeth wants to use it for a justification for more action.• Lady Macbeth wants to rid her feminism to become almost a “man” but still commands Macbeth to keep his masculinity. Lady Macbeth sees manhood as an equivalent to making rash actions and cruelty, even though it is shown to stem from the supernatural. = used mainly for manipulation of Macbeth.• Macbeth defines manhood in terms of composure and calm intent.=> CONTEXT: Gender roles in society; Men were powerful and brutes that showed off masculinity by violence.
“Is this a dagger I see before me […] And such an instrument I was to use.” • Characters: Macbeth• Themes: Violence, Supernatural and Fate• The soliloquy is the opening to the first signs of Macbeth’s insanity. He possesses an inability to distinguish between an hallucinations and reality does not restrict him to “clutch” either dagger.• Adjective “heat-opressed” – realises this vision is diminishing his sanity. However, contrasted with the further adjective “palpable” – comparing it to his own physical sword. • Echoes witches earlier paradox “Fair is foul and foul is fair” – In a sense, the “foul” vision is actually “fair” that it is a representation of accurate reality (Macbeth’s plot to kill Duncan)• Verb “draw” – when Macbeth draws his sword, it shows that it has a casual effect on his actions, making them seem rational. Shakespeare presents false visions not as figments of the imagination but capable of inducing changes to reality itself.
“Methought I heard a voice cry ‘sleep no more, Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent sleep […] Chief nourisher in life’s feast” • Characters: Macbeth• Themes: Supernatural and Violence• Exclamatory sentence “Sleep no more” – indicates a belief that Macbeth is referring killing Duncan, but is later revealed to be a defenseless person person while they were in a “innocent sleep”. Also shows rampant guilt and madness that will plague him and Lady Macbeth to their deaths.• Macbeth solely focuses on the abstract idea of sleep. He imagines it to be a weaver who “knits up” in a coherent and composed “ravell’d sleave of care”. “Ravell’d sleave” is a messy and disorganised garment, which juxtaposes the alluded weaver’s skill. This could be reflective of Macbeth’s mental state.• Metaphor of “sleep” is presented as a tranquil and organising force that helps make a person have coherence over the chaos life.• In the following lines, he almost casts sleep as the inverse, saying that sleep is the “death” after each “life”, the restful “bath” after one works. Emphasises the depth Macbeth feels he has violated human life – by removing the King of Scotland in a somewhat sacred space of rejuvenation.
“Nought’s had, all’s spent, Where our desire is got without content” • Characters: Lady Macbeth• Themes: Supernatural, Ambition and Gender• Lady Macbeth originally believed that killing Duncan would generate positive results, however has only ended in the exact opposite.• Metaphor “Nought’s had, all’s spent” – because Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have achieved their goals of becoming Queen and King.• “guilt-free contentment” – the passage makes a broader claim on the trappings of power and fame. • Shakespeare uses the psychological anxiety of Lady Macbeth to illustrate the self-defeating natures of avarice and desire.
“By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.” • Characters: Witches• Themes: Ambition and Supernatural• The witches are able to sense physical stimuli “the pricking” and describe Macbeth as “wicked”. The irony in this statement is excessive, as the witches as evil and wicked characters have now deemed Macbeth to also be wicked. This may suggest Macbeth can no longer be controlled as his evil human nature has gotten the better of him. • Although audience may be skeptical of witches power, there is limited capacity displayed here that they do indeed possess some power.• They describe “this way comes” as a passive action – suggests the witches are observers of fate, rather than active agents as suggested in “stars hide your fires” in the previous act.
“Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One, two: why, then, ’tis time to do it”

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