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Passage Analysis of Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 5

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Mary Ann Khalil

on 10 November 2015

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Transcript of Passage Analysis of Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 5

Character development
In this scene, it is the first time we meet Lady Macbeth. We learn more about her and Macbeth. Macbeth is an ambitious man, but he still wants to be honorable in the eyes of others. Because of this, he does not have it in him to commit evil acts for the sake of what he wants, no matter how strong his desire is. Macbeth does not want to get his hands dirty. Lady M says, "Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness (...)" Meaning Macbeth isn't very ruthless, and he is too good to do any dishonorable or bad thing.

Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is very willing to get her hands dirty, if it means getting what she wants. We learn that she is ruthless, and would do anything, no matter how bad the act is or the consequences, if there is something in it for her. Also, we notice how she fits the male gender role of that time, and how she is aware of it and uses it. Lady M is manipulative, sneaky, and persuasive. She is the authoritative figure in her relationship, as it is essentially her who decides Macbeth would kill the King.
Themes/Main Ideas
There is the idea of
breaking gender roles
, and this is quite evident when Lady Macbeth says, "Come, you spirits (...) unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe topful of direst cruelty!" Shakespeare is reinforcing the idea that not all women fit female roles and vice versa, because he created Lady Macbeth with a "male" personality rather than female. Macbeth is also not the typical "macho man" stereotype they had at the time. He is actually the more "female" partner in his marriage, for he lets himself be easily persuaded, and lets his wife decide many things for him, considering at the time women didn't have much of a voice. There is also the concept of
ambition and corruption
. We see this when Lady M doesn't hesitate before she decides to have M kill the King. A gesture like this is quite grave, so the fact that she is able to easily discard King Duncan, even though he has been generous with M, shows her unmerciful nature, just like a man's at the time. M, on the other hand, weighs the consequences. He does not jump into it at once, and tells Lady M that they shall speak about it later.
Plot development
When Macbeth sends Lady M a letter, he has no intention or thoughts of killing the King. Lady Macbeth conspires to put ideas in Macbeth's head. Specifically killing Duncan. She persuades him to kill the King and has her plan laid out in her brain. She is determined to follow it. Because she easily persuaded and manipulated Macbeth to do so, he now wants to kill the king. This is the first step that leads to his downfall and his corruption. This is how this scene propels the plot forward
Literary Devices
There are personifications in this scene, like she says, "keen knife see not the wound it makes". The wound she makes is the murder of Duncan. She does not want to see the aftermath of her actions, or else she will feel guilty, and she does not want to feel guilt. She compares a wound to the aftermath of her actions.
Also, there is a metaphor, "look like th'innocent flower, but be the serpent under't". Lady M wants her husband to be like a wolf in sheep's skin (a comparison), without being very explicit and using "like" or "as".
Diction
The way Lady Macbeth speaks to herself and to Macbeth varies throughout the scene. She speaks in a very sneaky, devious way while she is scheming. The way she speaks almost seems like a madman. Lady M sounds insane, yet cunning. Later, she speaks to Macbeth in a confident and sure tone. She is showing her authority. She almost orders him to kill the King, it is not a suggestion.
Vocabulary
Passage Analysis
Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 5

This scene is in the Rising Action, because it creates tension and builds up to the climax, which is the murder of King Duncan. It is one of the events that leads towards his death because it is the first introduction to the plan and the idea of killing Duncan.
Act 1, Scene 5
When Lady M says "unsex me (...)", it attracts attention. She isn't just saying she wants to be more manly, she's saying she wants to be completely stripped of her femininity, and everything that makes her soft and nurturing. Also, when she says Macbeth is "too full of the milk of the human kindness," she is saying Macbeth is too feminine and nurturing to be able to pull off murdering the King. She says it in such a way that you think of a breastfeeding mother. It is a very potent and attention-grabbing way to say feminine. And when she says "pour my spirts into thy ear," she is saying she has demons and terrible things to say to corrupt and manipulate her husband. She's saying she wants to corrupt him with her very soul, the demons and evil desires that lay in her heart, more powerful than anything. It is easy to see that she is somewhat evil.
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