In Macbeth Act IV scene 1 lines 111-134, William Shakespeare heightens the themes of guilt and conscience and order and disorder, Shakespeare also furthers Macbeth’s character in his ambition all through the utilization of punctuation, imagery, and irony through royal imagery. In this passage, Macbeth speaks to the wierd sisters and they speak back to him, the passage ends with a soliloquy. We already know going into this section of the play as previously discussed by my colleagues Keegan and Alex, that Macbeth has gone under quite a change.
Out of fear and paranoia, he has decided to seek out the witches in search of the answers of his future. Although macbeth has experienced this change, his guilt of the murder of Banquo is evident in this passage. Macbeth has just been given his prophecy and this bonus hallucination is given by Shakespeare as a glimpse into Macbeth’s state of mind. The First device shakespeare utilizes is punctuation. With one quick glance at these lines, Shakespeare's vast use of punctuation is immediately evident.
In these lines there are six periods, nine exclamation points, five colons, two semicolons, nine commas, and five question marks. Firstly, shakespeare utilizes exclamation points, which are only found in Macbeth’s lines to display Macbeth’s surprise in the hallucinations he is witnessing, this surprise then brings Macbeth to question what the witches are showing him, hence the use of question marks. For example, in line 115, Macbeth asks “why do you show me this? ” and before his question can be answered, yet another hallucination of a king enters.
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A similar event occurs at line 118. Usually when there is a comma used, there is another thought which follows, this occurs when Macbeth says “and yet the eight appears, who bears a glass” “Banquo smiles upon me, and points at them for his” when the witch says “I’ll charm the air to give a sound, while you perform your antic round” and “that this great king may kindly say, our duties did his welcome pay” Alone, the utilization of a specific form of punctuation contributes its own benefits for example, a comma contributes another idea.
Altogether, however, the massive amount of punctuation used by Shakespeare really creates a sense of confusion, thus heightening the theme of order and disorder. The second device used is sorcery and supernatural imagery. Examples of this found in the text are “spirit” “filthy hags” “crack of doom” “blood-bolter‘d banquo” “antic round” and “accursed” Shakespeare's use of such words reinforce the presence of the supernatural that Macbeth is currently experiencing and further the theme of the supernatural.
The third and final device Shakespeare uses is irony through royal imagery. In the vision of the eight kings which pass by Macbeth, all of whom looking like Banquo which is irony in itself, Shakespeare describes the eight kings by only giving information on monarch related objects, for example, “thy crown does sear mine eyeballs” “thou other gold-bound brow is like the first. ” “some I see that two-fold balls and treble scepters carry”.
Shakespeare furthers Macbeth’s character as the fixation of the crown related objects suggests Macbeth’s hunger and obsession for power has grown thus heightening the theme of ambition and furthers Macbeth’s character in illustration of the change that has overcome him. As stated earlier, Macbeth has already received his prophecy, so why would the witches give him more visions? In the lines prior to the start of the show of kings, all the witches say, “Show his eyes and grieve his heart, come like shadows, so depart. What the witches are doing Is creating vision out of Macbeth’s guilts fears and worries, thus the eight kings which appear. Shakespeare is suggesting that Macbeth’s immense guilt of Banquo’s death, and hunger for power are the reasons causing this bizarre hallucination, which continues to further Macbeth’s character in the theme of ambition and guilty conscience in the illustration of his obsession with the crown and Banquo.
So far, we have focused upon the devices present in the lines, but what about the devices that aren’t? Shakespeare did not include a time motif in this passage, not while the witches were present that is. When the witches disappeared, the time motif is reaffirmed. Time, is man made and represents order, in the absence of the time motif while the witches are present Shakespeare is suggesting that the witches are the root of the disorder and chaos experienced, thus heightening the theme of order and disorder.
In the context of the human condition, Shakespeare suggests that one’s colossal guilt and desires manifested in length will eventually lead to their inevitable destruction. Understanding the sins we have committed, and learning from the mistakes we have made is utterly important in our mental health and in some cases our existence. The opposite is displayed in Macbeth’s character as he continues to strive for an increase in power. This ambition is unhealthy, and eventually leads to Macbeth’s destruction.
Not only is this aspect of the human condition found in Macbeth, but is also commonly found throughout history, most recently, the late Muammer al-Gaddafi of Libya, who’s obsession for power in his own country, just like Macbeth lead to his timely end. In the tragedy of Macbeth act IV scene I lines 111-134, William Shakespeare forces the reader to question human nature as it pertains to guilt and unchecked ambition in the face of desperation and confusion. Now Dmitri will deconstruct his lines through a video presentation. Thank you.
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