Macbeth

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  • Created by: sgeorgiou
  • Created on: 13-05-16 19:23

Act 1 , S7 analysis

"It it were done, when tis done, then twere well
It was done quickly. If th' assassination 
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch 
With his surcrease, success: that but this blow 
Might be the be-all and the end-all, here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'd jump the life to come. Macbeth's language is compressed and euphemistic, the diction simply but the semantics complex. The verb to assassinate is not recorded before 1619. The word stands out dramatically in its context, and no doubt sounded strange to the play's first audience, covering in its strangeness the bald fact of murder. It contrasts in both rhythm and sound quality with the words just spoken, a series of monosyllables- then follows the thrillingly high register polysyllable with is introduction of sibilant sound which is quickly caught up in the next lines: "If the assassination/Could trammel up the consequence and catch/ With his sucrease, success". All the nouns here are non-native derivation, and thus the more conspicous. "Sucrease" meaning "bringing or coming to an end" is a rare word, not used anywhere else in Shakespeare. An auditory pun or paronomasia is produced by "success", here used for the fourth time in the play and perhaps to be noticed on this account by the audience, particularly since its diff meanings -prosperous achievements, succession of heirs intertwine so ironically in the course of the play. 

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Act 2, Scene 2 analysis

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather

The multitudious seas incarnadine
Making the green, one red.  In a later speech about the murder Shakespeare again gives Macbeth a polysyllabin coinage. Murderers before Macbeth lamented their inability to eradicate the evidence of their crimes- for example Claudius in Hamlet and the notion of seas died red with blood was not new. But Shakepeare gives new life to the hyperbole with his two bold Latinisms. "Multitudinous" meaning vast or boundless is not his coinage. But it is much more than individiual examples of unusual vocabularly that give Macbeth its very special verbal lexical texture. What Frank Kermode calls its "lexical habit" is created by many stylsitic features: rhetorical forms of ambiguity, puns and double meanings, echoes and repetitions, euphenisms and circumlocutions. Russ McDonald identifies "unremitting repetition" as "the auditory pattern that overrides all others" in Macbeth. 

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Act 1, Scene 3 analysis

I'll do, I'll do and I'll do. 
A simple neutral monosyllable, particularly common in early modern English through its use as an auxiliary verb "do" begins to take on dark colouring in the play's third scene when repeated three times by the First Witch as she sums up her malovelent intentions towards the sailor's wife. While this passage is often glossed with sexual implications which the word "do" could carry, the language may be more potently suggestive if kept vague. Deeds and doing figure in two proverbs current at the time "The thing done has an end" and "Things done cannot be undone" and also in the words of Jesus to Judas at the last supper which early modern audiences familiar with the Bible may have known "That thou doest, do quickly". When Macbeth's Lady at her first appearance starts to play on ideas of doing, the words take on specific signficance. 

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Act 1, Scene 5 analysis

Thou'dt have, great Glamis,
That which cries "Thus must do", if thou have it

And that which rather thous dost fear to do
That wishest should be undone.  Her repetition of the nominal phrase "that which" and the delay in naming what is to be "done" initiate a euphemistic habit observed by both Macbeths when referring to Duncan's murder which they refer to as "this business", "this enterprise" or "our great quell". The word "done" resounds, three times in the first sentence of Macbeth's soliloquy. As Simon Palfrey says, we may hear in this clumsily repetitive phrasing " a nervous stutter, an evasive circumlocution, a thumphing palpitation". 

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