Literary Devices Employed By Shakespeare In The Play Macbeth

Category: Fiction, Macbeth, Witchcraft
Last Updated: 17 Mar 2023
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Literary devices employed by Shakespeare in Macbeth’s words in Act 4 Scene 1 of the play Macbeth Symbolism: the apparitions’ appearances each symbolise something, the first, a bloody head in a helmet, symbolises Macbeth and his inevitable death. The second, a bloody child, symbolises Macduff, who had been “untimely ripp’d” (born of a C-section), and the third, a child with a crown and a tree. The crowned child symbolises Banquo’s progeny that will come to rule after Banquo.

Metaphor: metaphors are used throughout the apparitions’ speeches, the apparitions themselves are metaphors. They symbolise things that tie in with each prophecy.

Parallel: there are parallels between the witches’ speech and Macbeth’s, Shakespeare uses this to show how Macbeth is becoming more and more evil, he is becoming like the witches.

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Irony: Shakespeare uses dramatic irony in what the apparitions symbolise and prophesise; where Macbeth accepts what the apparitions tell him literally, the audience knows that what is said has deeper meaning. Another instance of irony is when Macbeth says “and damn’d all those that trust them (the witches)” (line 138). Macbeth is cursing the people who trust witches, yet he trusts them.

Imagery (lines 49 – 60): Shakespeare uses Macbeth’s lines to describe the usual risks and effects of witchcraft in exact detail, allowing the audience to build an impressive image of destruction and confusion. He does this to emphasise the effects of dealing with witches and what happens when the great chain is disrupted.

Paradox: the apparitions tell Macbeth to not fear any man born of a woman, which Macbeth takes to mean as that he cannot be killed because every man must be born of a woman. He didn’t think that Macduff could harm him because he was born of a woman, but Macduff was not “born”, he was “untimely ripp’d” (born of a C-section).

Related Questions

on Literary Devices Employed By Shakespeare In The Play Macbeth

Why Is A Paradox The Most Precise Literary Device To Describe Shakespeare?
A paradox is the most precise literary device to describe Shakespeare because his works often contain seemingly contradictory themes and ideas that ultimately reveal a deeper truth or understanding about the human experience. Shakespeare's use of paradox allows for a complex and nuanced exploration of his characters and their motivations, making his works timeless and endlessly fascinating.
What Does The Bloody Child Mean In Macbeth?
The bloody child in Macbeth represents Macbeth's doomed fate and the consequences of his actions. It symbolizes the prophecy that Macbeth cannot be harmed by anyone born of a woman, and ultimately foreshadows his downfall.
What Are The Three Apparitions In Macbeth ?
The three apparitions in Macbeth are a floating head, a bloody child, and a crowned child holding a tree. They appear to Macbeth as part of the witches' prophecy, warning him of his impending downfall.
What Does The First Apparition Tell Macbeth ?
The first apparition tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff. It also tells him that no man born of a woman can harm him.
What Did The Second Apparition Tell Macbeth ?
The second apparition told Macbeth to beware of Macduff, who was born through a Caesarean section. This meant that Macduff was not technically born of woman," making him a threat to Macbeth's reign."
What Does The Third Apparition Tell Macbeth ?
The third apparition tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff, who is not born of woman but rather untimely ripped" from his mother's womb. This gives Macbeth a false sense of security, as he believes he cannot be defeated by someone who was not naturally born."

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Literary Devices Employed By Shakespeare In The Play Macbeth. (2016, Aug 26). Retrieved from

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