Key Themes of Macbeth

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  • Macbeth
    • Appearance vs. Reality
      • Lady Macbeth
        • 'Look like th'innocent flower, but be the serpent beneath it'
          • Adam + Eve in the garden of Eden
        • 'Look like the time'
          • simile; like the time
        • 'Look up clear, to alter favour ever is to fear'
      • Macbeth
        • 'False face must hide what the false heart doth know'
          • CONTRAST to Duncan's 'There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face'
    • Ambition
      • Macbeth
        • 'My thought, whose murder is yet fantastical'
          • adverb;  'yet' foreshadows Duncan's murder
        • 'I burned in desire to question them further'
          • verb; 'burned' connotations of hell
        • 'Vaulting ambitions which o'erleaps itself and falls on th'other'
          • foreshadows his own downdall
      • Lady Macbeth
        • 'What cannot you and I perform upon th'unguarded Duncan'
        • 'But screw your ccourage to the sticking place, and we'll not fail'
    • Betrayal
      • Macbeth
        • 'He(Duncan) hath honour'd me of late'
        • 'Stars, hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires'
          • lexical field of darkness; connotations of evil
        • 'Our duties/ Are to your throne and state, children and servants'
          • irony; Macbeth will destroy all of these in his quest for power
    • Fate
    • Supernatural
      • Lady Macbeth
        • 'The raven himself is hoarse/That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan'
          • raven associated with witchcraft; often their 'familiar'
        • 'Come, you spirits, that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here'
          • imperative verb; come - demonstrates her control
        • 'What, will my  hands ne'er be clean'
          • visions indicative of guilt
      • Witches
        • 'Killing swine'
          • Plays on public beliefs to create terror surrounding the witches
        • 'Peace, the charm's wound up'
          • noun; 'charm' suggests they bewitched Macbeth
        • 'Fair is foul and foul is fair'
          • paradox; confuses the audience + other characters
      • Macbeth
        • 'Is this a dagger which I see before me?'
          • visions indicative of guilt
    • Royalty
      • Lady Macbeth
        • 'Which shall (...) give solely sovereign sway and masterdom'
  • AO2
  • AO3

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