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Act 3 Scene 4 - Macbeth
Transcript of Act 3 Scene 4 - Macbeth
Act 3 Scene 4 - Macbeth
Act III Scene IV is most noteworthy for the light it casts upon Macbeth's state of mind. In this scene, we see a fatal collapse of his powers.
It starts off with Macbeth welcoming his guests at a Banquet. As everyone is being seated, the first murderer enters, who informs Macbeth that he has slit Banquo's throat, but Fleance has escaped.
Then, Banquo's ghost appears and Macbeth raises a toast and calls special attention to Banquo's abscence.
Macbeth is later invited to sit, and in the spot that is reserved for him sits the ghost of Banquo.
Macbeth becomes hysterical, and the lords all take notice, while Lady Macbeth excuses him for these "momentary fits" he's had since childhood.
Lady Macbeth urges them to continue on eating, while she speaks to Macbeth alone.
Lady Macbeth uses Macbeth's fear of being feminized against him and belittles him to try and control him
Meanwhile, Macbeth is discoursing with the ghost that only he sees, and it disappears.
Everything is just getting back to normal when the ghost reappears. Again Macbeth calls out a toast to the missing Banquo again
Macbeth tries to recover, he scolds everyone else for seeming to be so calm in the face of such a horrible sight.
Lady Macbeth tells the lords to leave immediately, and as they exit, Macbeth philosophizes that "blood will have blood".
Morning is now approaching, and Macbeth points out that Macduff never showed at the party. He lets out that he has had a spy in Macduff's house. He promises to go to the witches the next day, and announces that he's in so deep a river of blood, it would be as hard to go back as to cross.
The feast . . . ceremony (35)
Banquets which are given freely are made more attractive by the "sauce" of ceremony.
flaws and starts (62)
gentle weal (75)
protest me (104)
claim that I am
disposition . . . owe (112)
my own human nature, courage
augurs. . . blood (123)
Prophecies have (in the past) revealed even the most well-hidden murders
In Lines 1-2, Macbeth says
"You know your own degrees; sit down: at first
And last the hearty welcome"
Here, Macbeth says to his men that they should know their own military ranks or stature, so they should know where to sit in relation to Macbeth, and he welcomes them all
In Lines 4-6,
"Ourself will mingle with society,
And play the humble host.
Our hostess keeps her state but in best time"
The Lords and Macbeth will act as they should as hosts and members of higher society. Lady Macbeth is where she belongs, but at some point she will need to join them.
"Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect,
Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
As broad and general as the casing air:
But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confined, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo's safe?"
Upon hearing the unwelcome news that Fleance escaped his treachery, Macbeth's language abruptly changes. The alliteration reveals Macbeth's constraint and uneasiness, in contrast to the freedom which he claims to have enjoyed previously. He had been fine thinking they were both dead, but now he is filled with anxiety because Fleance may come to take what is truly his.
There the grown serpent lies; the worm that's fled
Hath nature that in time will venom breed,"
This is a metaphor: the grown serpent is Banquo and the worm is Fleance. In time the worm will grow and breed, and Macbeth will be in trouble again because one of the prophecies from the witches was that Banquo would father a line of kings.
Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,
And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat;
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well: if much you note him,
You shall offend him and extend his passion:
Feed, and regard him not. Are you a man?
Lady Macbeth is trying desperately to manage the situation and cover her husband, who is having a mental breakdown. The guests go to leave, and Lady Macbeth bids them stay, stating that Macbeth often acts like this, and he has done since childhood. She says that if they leave, they will offend him, so they should just stay there and pretend not to notice him, using the rhetorical question to convince them to do as she asks, in order to protect Macbeth, showing a sense of loyalty towards one another.
O proper stuff!
This is the very painting of your fear:
This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,
Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts,
Impostors to true fear, would well become
A woman's story at a winter's fire,
Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!
This is a reference to an earlier vision Macbeth had before he killed Duncan. Lady Macbeth is telling him it was nothing more than a hallucination. Lady Macbeth is using gender roles to manipulate Macbeth, saying that all of this would be appropriate if he was "listening to a woman tell her grandma's story around a winter fire". As we know Lady Macbeth uses Macbeth's fear of being feminized to her advantage.
The collapse of Macbeth's powers and state of mind
Manipulation from Lady Macbeth