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Paradoxes in Macbeth
Transcript of Paradoxes in Macbeth
"Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (I.i.11). The witches talk among themselves, foreshadowing what is to happen with Macbeth in the future.
Explanation: What is good is bad, and what is bad is good. Paradox #2
"So from that spring whence comfort seemed to come, discomfort swells" (I.ii.27-28) The captain tells King Duncan about the latest battle and the killing of Macdonwald by Macbeth.
Explanation: They were originally satisfied with the murder of Macdonwald, but now it has caused further problems. Paradox #3
"Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. Not so happy, yet much happier. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none" (I.iii.66-68). As the witches tell Macbeth his prophecies, the witches then tell Banquo what is to be of his future.
Explanation: Banquo's future will be better and worse than Macbeth's. He will be happy, but there will be times where there is no happiness. Banquo will never become king, but he will have many descendants that will be king. Paradox #4
"This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill, cannot be good" (I.iii.133-134). After being named Thane of Cawdor like the witches predicted, he wonders if the rest of their prediction will come true, and questions if believing these witches is a good thing.
Explanation: The witches predictions must be a good thing because it came true, but it also may not be a good thing because now he's contemplating murdering Duncan to become king. Paradox #5 "False face must hide what the false heart doth know" (I.vii.82). Macbeth and Lady Macbeth begin to contemplate murdering Duncan and how they will go about it.
Explanation: Don't show what you know in your heart by the expression on your face. Paradox #6 "To know my deed 'twere best not know myself" (II.ii.760). After Macbeth kills Duncan, he begins to regret what he has done.
Explanation: Knowing what I have done, I don't want to live with myself. Paradox #7 "Were the graced person of our Banquo present, who I may rather challenge for unkindness than pity for mischance" (III.iv.42-44). As Macbeth attends his banquet, he talks of hoping to see Banquo attend, but ends up seeing his ghost.
Explanation: Macbeth talks about Banquo as if he really cares about him and he hopes all is well, when he just had Banquo killed. Paradox #8 "Fathered he is, and yet he's fatherless" (IV.ii.27). Lady Macduff expresses her anger at the fact that Macduff left her and his son vulnerable.
Explanation: Her son does have a father, but considering how Macduff just left them like a coward, he might as well not have a father. Paradox #9 "This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues, was once thought honest. You have loved him well; he hath not touched you yet" (IV.iii.12-14). Malcolm and Macduff discuss what they should do about Macbeth becoming king.
Explanation: Malcolm tells Macduff that though Macbeth is an evil tyrant, Macbeth has not done anything to harm him yet, when Macbeth has just had Macduff's family murdered.