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Light and Dark Motifs in Macbeth

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anusha basana

on 20 February 2014

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Transcript of Light and Dark Motifs in Macbeth

Light and Dark Motifs in Macbeth
The dichotomy of light and dark is a form of imagery used in Macbeth to produce a contrast between the good and the evil, as well as to set the mood and setting throughout this tragic play.
Act V
Anusha Basana
Jane Choi
Vivian Fang
Matt Huo
Micheal You

Period 3

Act II
The moon is down. I have not heard the clock. (II.1.2)
Act I
Act IV
Fleance tells Banquo that night has fallen while they are walking through the halls of Macbeth's castle before Banquo pledges his allegiance to Macbeth.
Hold, take my sword. There’s husbandry in heaven;
Their candles are all out. Take thee that too.
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
And yet I would not sleep. Merciful powers,
Restrain in me the cursèd thoughts that nature
Gives way to in repose.
(II.1. 5-11)
This was said by Banquo right when King Duncan goes to sleep, before Macbeth enters.
I’ll go no more:
I am afraid to think what I have done;
Look on ’t again I dare not.
Macbeth says this to Lady Macbeth after he murders the King. He is shaken over what he has just done.
I’ll go no more:
I am afraid to think what I have done;
Look on ’t again I dare not.
Macbeth says this to Lady Macbeth after he murders the King. He is shaken over what he has just done.
My hands are of your color, but I shame
To wear a heart so white.
Lady Macbeth uses a heart so white to represent an innocent soul. She uses light imagery to show weakness and fragility. She shows that she is ashamed that of such an innocent and pure heart
His silver skin laced with his golden blood,
(II.3. 91)
This was said by Macbeth describing Duncan after the murder.
And yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp.
Is ’t night’s predominance or the day’s shame
That darkness does the face of Earth entomb
When living light should kiss it?
(II.4. 7-10)

This quote is said by the thane Ross while discussing the ominous happenings of the past few days with an old man.
...Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark
To cry “Hold, hold!

At the end of Lady Macbeth’s speech about preparing to murder Duncan, she establishes herself as resolute to kill Duncan, and reveals how evil she is. Thick night, dunnest smoke of hell and the blanket of the dark are all forms of imagery of darkness. They represent evil, and characterize Lady Macbeth’s murder as so “dark” that the knife will not see its wound and the heavens will not be able to stop it.

Thunder and Lightning
In the very beginning where witches enter, thunder and lightning sets the mood for the battlefield and the witches entrance.
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.
Banquo is telling Macbeth to be careful about the prophecies, because the “instruments of darkness”, or the witches, can deceive a person to betray others.
...Stars, hide your fires;
Let no light see my black and deep desires. (I.4.57-58)
Macbeth sees that Malcolm is in his way of becoming king, and is considering immoral methods to achieve the throne. However, he does not want other people to find out about his plans. Light is personified as something that finds out about his desires, and black is used to describe his evil an obscure desires.
First witch- He shall live a man forbid.
Weary sev’nnights, nine times, nine,
Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine.
The witches are cursing an innocent man just because his wife would not share her chestnuts.
As far, my lord, as will fill up the time
'Twixt this and supper. Go not my horse the better,
I must become a borrower of the night
For a dark hour or twain.
(III.1. 26-29)
Said by Banquo before he leaves for a ride with his son, while talking to MacBeth.
Give us a light there, ho!
Banquo said this when traveling by horse with his son. The murderers see the light and know it is Banquo.
The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
Macbeth is talking to ghost of Banquo.
Till thou applaud the deed. 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 wing to th' rooky wood.
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse.
MacBeth says this while the day is fading and night time is upon them. He is discussing Banquo and Fleance with his wife, and how it is a danger they are still alive.
Who did strike out the light?
Said by third murderer when the light is put out and Fleance escaped. Banquo was killed right before this.
Whose absence is no less material to me
Than is his father’s, must embrace the fate
Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart.
I’ll come to you anon.
(III.1. 141-144)
MacBeth says this while he is ordering the murderers to also get rid of Banquo’s son.

The west glimmers with some streaks of day
This is the first murder talking to the others before the murder of Banquo.
How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?
Macbeth comes to question the witches further about his fate.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches
(IV.1.Stage Direction)
In the opening of Act 4 where witches are about to put symbolic ingredients into the pot.
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.
Malcolm talking about Macbeth and Lucifer and the brightness of angels.
Child of integrity, hath from my soul
Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts
To thy good truth and honor.
Malcolm describing how Macbeth is devilish.
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!
Macbeth is giving a speech about Lady Macbeth's death.
I’gin to be aweary of the sun
(V.5. 55)
Macbeth hears news that Birnam wood is moving towards his castle, and realizes that the apparitions are coming true. He feels hopeless and later even wishes that the world was destroyed.
How can she by that light?
Why, it stood by her. She has light by
her continually. ‘Tis her command.
(V.1. 23-25)
The Doctor and Lady Macbeth's Gentlewoman observing Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking.
The night has been unruly. Where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down and, as they say,
Lamentings heard i' th' air, strange screams of death,
And prophesying with accents terrible
Of dire combustion and confused events
New hatched to the woeful time. The obscure bird
Clamored the livelong night. Some say the Earth
Was feverous and did shake.
Lennox is describing some possible omens he experienced before coming to Macbeth’s house to get the king, which includes blowing out of the light of his chimney.
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