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Act 1:Scene 2.How would you paraphrase the Captains description of the battle and the...

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mjroxy882 | Student, Grade 10

Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:33 AM via web

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Act 1:Scene 2.

How would you paraphrase the Captains description of the battle and the part played by Macbeth in securing victory?

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mjroxy882 | Student, Grade 10

Posted November 19, 2011 at 11:33 AM (Answer #2)

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PLEASE I NEED HELP!

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 19, 2011 at 2:07 PM (Answer #3)

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Here's the passage you asked about:

Sergeant. Doubtful it stood; 
As two spent swimmers, that do cling together 
And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald— 
Worthy to be a rebel, for to that 
The multiplying villanies of nature 30
Do swarm upon him—from the western isles 
Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied; 
And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling, 
Show'd like a rebel's whore: but all's too weak: 
For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name— 35
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel, 
Which smoked with bloody execution, 
Like valour's minion carved out his passage 
Till he faced the slave; 
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, 40
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chops, 
And fix'd his head upon our battlements.

Here's a paraphrase:

Sergeant. Doubtful it stood; 
As two spent swimmers, that do cling together 
And choke their art. [The outcome of the battle was uncertain; the two armies resembled two tired swimmers clasping one another.] The merciless Macdonwald— 
Worthy to be a rebel, for to that 
The multiplying villanies of nature 30
Do swarm upon him [The rebel Macdonwald seems appropriately a rebel, since, in addition to being a rebel, nature has made him villainous in various ways] —from the western isles 
Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied; [Macdownwald received reinforcements of lightly and heavily armed soldiers]
And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,  [The goddess of Fortune (Fortuna) seemed about to grant victory to his evil rebellion]
Show'd like a rebel's whore: [She looked like a prostitute favoring this rebel] but all's too weak: [But ultimately Macdonwald's forces proved to be too weak]
For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name— 35 [Brave Macbeth well deserves to be called "brave"]
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel, [since Macbeth showed contempt for Fortune; he used his sword.]
Which smoked with bloody execution, [Macbeth used his sword so effectively that it almost seemed to smoke as he used it to kill enemies;]
Like valour's minion carved out his passage [Macbeth used his sword so skillfully that he he seemed to be the darling or favorite of a personified Valor, or Bravery; he cut his way through the enemy army]
Till he faced the slave; [until he came face-to-face with Macdonwald]
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, 40 [Macdonwald never had a chance to take a proper leave of Macbeth]
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chops, [because Macbeth sliced him right up the middle, from his navel to his jaws]
And fix'd his head upon our battlements. [and stuck his severed head on our fortified wall.]

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 25, 2011 at 5:42 PM (Answer #4)

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The captain who describes the battle to King Duncan speaks as though he has witnessed a superhero who makes his way through the battlefield by sheer power of will and tremendous strength.  Faced with the villainous Macdonwald, who has reinforcements come to his aid, the brave Macbeth is undeterred and uses his sword so skillfully that it is as though he becomes the personification of Valor.  Cutting his way through the enemy, Macbeth finally assaults the wicked Macdonwald and brutally slays him by cutting him from his navel to his jaws.  Then, the brutal Macbeth decapitates his enemy and places his head upon the battlements.

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