Macbeth Literary Terms

Allusion an expression tgat refers to a person, place, poem, book, event, etc. the author expects the reader will recognize (noun)example: references to the King James Bible; biblical imagery, (Golgatha – Christ’s crucifixion)
Comic Relief comic episodes that provide relief from drama or tragedy; breaks up the mood (noun)example: descriptions of witches with beards
Dialogue speaking; conversation between characters (noun)example: “A drum, a drum! Macbeth doth come!”
Foil a character whose qualities or actions serve to emphasize the actions of another character; contrast. example: Banquo vs Macbeth. When they meet the witches, they have different interpretations of the prophecies. Banquo-> Witches are no good, vs. Macbeth -> witches are good.
Foreshadowing Something that is hinted to happen laterexample: act one -> witches’ prophecies -> they tell something is going to happen
Heroic Quatrain a poetic stanza consisting of four lines with a rhyme scheme of A/B/A/B or A/A/B/B.example: page 96, Act 3, scene 2, lines 6-9
Iambic Pentameter a line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable.example: “Who was it that this cried? Why, worthy thane,/You do unbend your noble strength to think/So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,/And wash this filthy witness from your hand./Why did you bring these daggers from the place?/They must lie there. Go carry them and smear/The sleepy grooms with blood.”
Inference conclusion reached based on evidence and reason; the author does not state directlyexample: “Malcolm is now the prince of Cumberland! To be come king myself, I’m either going to have to step over him or give up, because he’s in my way.”
Irony expressing through humorous language or inconsistent language that usually means the opposite of the general meaning.example: “All hail, Macbeth!”
Metaphor a phrase used to compare one thing to another that are usually not similar without using like or as. example: Act 5, scene 7
Metonymy the use of a related item that’s used to represent something bigger that’s being discussed. example: Act 3, scene 4
Motif a recurring situation, incident, idea, or image that is repeated through literary workexample: light and dark-blood-ghosts
setting -the time and place where a story, play, novel, etcex. Act IV, scene 1 pg 130setting = a cavern, Scotland, 11th century
simile a figure of speech involving a comparison of one thing to another using the words like or asex. Act I, scene 2, pg 6, line 43
soliloquy the act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud, character reveals thought to audience but not to other peopleex. act 2, scene 1, pg 50-5Macbeth: “Is this a dagger…”
theme – the subject of a story; the central or dominant idea; a universal statement about humanityex. courage, ambition, abuse of power, guilt and paranoia, false appearance
plot the main events in a literary work; what happens in a storyex. Act V -> Lady Macbeth is struggling with guilt, etc
symbol a person, place, or thing that represents something else, usually a larger idea or conceptex. dark and light -> good and evilblood -> murder, guiltthe bell -> impending doom
tone the general attitude or atmosphere the author puts in a literary workex. Act V, page 180, line 30, sinister tone
tragic hero a character in a tragedy who is destined for downfall due to a tragic fall. ex. Act V, scene 8, page 216, [enter Macduff with Macbeth’s head], Macbeth’s downfall and eventual death were due to his ambition and other tragic flaws.

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