Act V Favourites

March 18, 2010 - Leave a Response

Cite your favourite image or lines from Act IV and Act V of Macbeth and explain why you liked them so much.

Copy this into your own blog and respond there in two separate posts.

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
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!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
– V, v, 21-30

In this passage, Lady Macbeth had just died and Macbeth talks of how brief and meaningless life can be. Firstly, with the repetition of “to-morrow”, Macbeth emphasizes the passing of time to the audience and at the same time perhaps hint how life goes on no matter what. Then, in the next few lines, Macbeth explains how days go by when we are not aware of it despite how slow it may feel sometimes. He then goes on talking about how one’s past may often lead them to their ends. Lastly, in the last few lines of the passage, Macbeth compares life to a candle, where it is “brief” as he said, and how after one’s death, what they have done while alive could mean little or perhaps nothing.

Specific comparisons were made between things to further clarify and enforce Macbeth’s point of view to life. Firstly, as mentioned above, he compares life to a candle. As one may perceive, the flickering fire on a candle is very easily blown out, telling the audience how vulnerable life can be. To add on to that, a candle has a very short time in which the candle can burn, hinting that life is brief and has an end. As a whole, the metaphor is interesting in its way to express the desired idea as light is used to signify life and darkness as death. Next, Macbeth makes a comparison between the everyday person and an actor on stage. Like an actor, despite the importance and glory one may have on the stage and life, their existence and significance gradually diminishes after one leaves or is dead. This comparison effectively delivers Shakespeare’s take on life and perhaps reflect how the society worked at that time.

Other than the above, the audience could find a slight hint of hopelessness in Macbeth as he speaks with a rather negative tone when speaking of how life may be meaningless. This tone brings about sympathy for the character of Macbeth since all that is with him now is either forced or has left. With that, it changes the audience’s feelings towards Macbeth to a new stage in relation to the transformation that the character goes through. Along with Macbeth’s change, the audiences’s feelings adjust accordingly too, where previously they may have despised him for all the evil deeds and now pities him perhaps.

Act IV Favourite

March 18, 2010 - Leave a Response

Cite your favourite image or lines from Act IV and Act V of Macbeth and explain why you liked them so much. Copy this into your own blog and respond there in two separate posts.

“But I have none: the king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them, but abound
In the division of each several crime,
Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth.”
– IV, iii, 103-112

This passage takes place when Malcolm tests Macduff for his loyalty and whether he could be trusted. Specifically here, Malcolm tells Macduff that he himself lacks the qualities to be king and instead will bring destruction in to Scotland if he returned. There are various reasons to which I chose these lines. Firstly, through Malcolm’s description of how a king should be, it reflects Shakespeare’s and the society’s idea of a king at the time. This can show the positive and honourable image that the position of king had too at the time.

Aside from the reflection of the king’s image in the people’s heart, the passage also be used to compare Duncan and Macbeth. Duncan, from the earlier acts, possess the “king-becoming graces” listed and holds a prestige and goodly image in the hearts of the people. On the contrary, this passage reveals the opposite for Macbeth. Here, the audience can see the qualities Macbeth lacks and how he is unfit to be king. In fact, one can relate this passage to lines 64-75 of the same scene, where Malcolm lies about himself having horrific characteristics. Rather than taking on the positive qualities in the chosen passage, Macbeth inhibits the flaws in the previous lines.

In the end of the passage, Malcolm states how with his return, he will “pour the sweet milk of concord into hell, uproar the universal peace, confound all unity on earth.” In other words, he tells of how the harmony in Scotland will be destroyed and instead be set in to chaos. Words of strong associations and the magnitude like “hell”, “universal”, and “earth” bring a more powerful sense to the character of Malcolm and perhaps aid him in fooling Macduff. This can also reflect what Macbeth has done to the country in the duration of his reign. Although not directly stated, it is as if Malcolm has imposed on himself the deeds Macbeth has done and his characterisitcs to make himself sound more tyrannical and dangerous.

Act III Favourite

March 3, 2010 - Leave a Response

Explain in your view, what is the most striking image or line from Act III of Shakespeare’s Macbeth?

The most striking image in Act III of Shakespeare’s Macbeth would be lines 51-58 of scene 2.

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 the rooky wood;
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,
Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse.

In this little passage that Macbeth speaks to himself and to the night sky, one can see the development of his character from the start of the play. As seen in act II, where he kills Duncan, Macbeth started off as a character that possesses self-doubt and guilt. However, these somewhat weak character characteristics go through a change and from the above passage, the change in personality is evident. Diction of negative and dark connotations such as “tear”, “pitiful”, “bloody”, and “black agents” have been used to express the evil that inhabits Macbeth and the transformation. Not to mention, Shakespeare’s use of dark and animal imagery within the passage enhances the desired dark mood. In lines 51-55 of the passage, Macbeth asks for the assistance of the night and evil to help him cover up the light and justice and aid him to rid Banquo of his life. From this, one can see how he malevolence has built up in him and turned towards fiendish. This brings contrast to when he was first told of the plan to kill Duncan, where hesitation overwhelms him. Here, he even plans of the heinous act to kill his friend, showing the change in character. To further prove this change, the word “tear” is used in the passage. This word brings a rather beastly and ruthless connotations to Macbeth’s character, perhaps hinting the savagery that may be developing in him. Next, in lines 55-58, Shakespeare uses animal imagery to express how darkness is going to take over. Firstly, he makes use of the crow to portray a rather dark mood as the bird often represents bad omen. Not to mention, a group of crows is called a “murder”. This would help develop the idea of murdering of Banquo. In the next two lines, Macbeth states that “good things of day begin to droop and drowse, whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse” (III, ii, 7-8). Here, Macbeth talks of how as night approaches, the gentle creatures will sleep whilst the predators and evil of the night will rise. This shows how the dark hour of the night is interrelated with the evil and that heinous deeds are to happen at night. Moreover, it brings the idea that evil is rising while the good is falling.

Citizen Responsibilities

February 1, 2010 - Leave a Response

Are a citizen’s first responsibilities to family, political leader, or country?  Explain.
Would assassination or civil war ever be a justifiable response to tyranny?  What would you do if the leader of your country became a vicious tyrant?

I think a citizen’s first responsibilities lies with their family. Hierarchical statuses had been created by us humans to make things work at a more efficient rate. Hence, As the citizen may tend to their family, the families and people as a whole should support the political leaders, in which help govern and run the country smoothly. With this, a society can function in a more orderly manner and work at its best.

Assassination or civil war in some cases may be a justifiable response to tyranny. When the dictatorship is doing harm to the society as a whole, action will be taken to restore the balance and repair the damage. By removing the tyrant from their position or setting off a civil war, it brings attention to the general public’s discontent and in many cases remove the leader from the position to replace with perhaps a better one.

As a person that has little engagement in politics and of less aggressiveness than others, I will put my family and my safety as first priority and take measures to prevent us from being hurt rather than rebelling as some others may. One of the solutions I may take would be to leave the country as soon as possible to minimize the harm and effect the tyrant may have to our lives.

Act II Favourite

January 28, 2010 - One Response

Explain in your view, what is the most striking image or line from Act II of Shakespeare’s Macbeth?

The most striking image from Act II of Shakespeare’s Macbeth would be lines 40-71 in scene 1.

“Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight? or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? I see thee yet, in form as palpable as this which now I draw. Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going; And such an instrument I was to use. Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other senses, or else worth all the rest: I see thee still; And on thy blade and dungeon gouts of blood, which was not so before. There’s no such thing: It is the bloody business which informs thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one half-world nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse the curtain’d sleep; witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecate’s offerings; and wither’d murder, alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf, whose howl’s his watchm, thus with his stealthy pace,  with Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his design moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth, hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear they very stones prate of my whereabout and take the present horror from the time, which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives: Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. [A bell rings] I go, and it is done; the bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven, or to hell.”

In this soliloquy, the audience can clearly see the effects of the murderous plan on Macbeth’s conscience. Throughout the passage, many images of blood, animals of mysterious connotations, and dark imagery has been used to further enhance the anxiety and sinful thoughts that were running through Macbeth’s mind and body. We can see how the nervousness has affected the character as he talks of an imaginary dagger in the air when he questions “Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight? or art though but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” (II, i, 43-46). This may very well be the result of the restlessness and doubt that exists within him as he is about to do the deed. Near the end of the soliloquy, we see a change in fear and anxiety in Macbeth. Despite the tension in the beginning, he ends by saying “words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. I go, and it is done, the bell invites me.” (II, i, 68-69) From here, the audience gets the idea that the terror in him has slowly started to fade as he approached Duncan’s room and is ready to bring Duncan “to heaven, or to hell.” (II, i, 71)

Act 1 Favourite

January 21, 2010 - One Response

Explain in your view, what is the most striking image or line from Act I of Shakespeare’s Macbeth?

The most striking image and lines from Act I in Shakespeare’s Macbeth are from Lady Macbeth’s soliquy in lines 41-57 of scene 5.

“The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements. Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood, stop up the access and passage to remorse, that no compunctious visitings of nature shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between the effect and it! COme to my woman’s breasts, and take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers, wherever in your sightless substances you wait on nature’s mischief! 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!””

The speech brings out the power and darkness that the character possesses with the strong and direct lines like “come, you spirits that tend on mortal throughts, unsexme here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty!” (I,vi, 44-46) To make it stand out more, the monologue is spoken by a female character, which is given a bold personality, showing the immense determination she had at the time. Imagery also plays a huge part in the speech since many images of blood and darkness are used to enhance the mood, strength, and impact of the speech to the audience. Not to mention, in these lines, we can see how females were viewed as weak and kind as Lady Macbeth asks the evil spirits to remove her feminine qualities from her to master her deed. This somewhat portrays the society’s concept of genders at the time the play was written.