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In Act 1 scene 7 lines 35-38,, how would this passage be an example of a clothing motif...

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kpoplover1105 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 16, 2012 at 7:33 AM via web

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In Act 1 scene 7 lines 35-38,, how would this passage be an example of a clothing motif and why is it significant?

(I,vii,35-38): "He hath honored me of late, and I have brought/ Golden opinions from all sorts of people,/ Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,/ Not cast aside so soon."

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tresvivace | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted February 16, 2012 at 8:05 AM (Answer #1)

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I looked up this passage in two editions of the full play online.  The lines you cite seem to be lines 31-35, at least in most editions.  Line 35 here is only half a line.  However, these lines do involve the clothing motif:

We will proceed no further in this business:

He hath honour’d me of late: and I have bought

Golden opinions from all sorts of people,

Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,

Not cast aside so soon.

In these lines Macbeth uses the word “worn”—the golden opinions and accolades he has received from the King should be “worn” or displayed with gratitude toward the King.  Macbeth, having been given the title Thane of Cawdor, feels it is wrong for him to kill King Duncan, who has just honored him so.  The “golden opinions” (meaning the new title and the praise that came with it) is like a new garment one would wear with care and gratitude.  It is not the time to carry out the murder though Lady Macbeth thinks otherwise.

However, in many editions, including the two I researched, lines 35-38 read as follows:

Was the hope drunk

Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since?

And wakes it now, to look so green and pale

At what it did so freely?

If these are the intended lines, you can see that Lady Macbeth uses the phrase "you dress'd yourself."  She is using the concept of dressing metaphorically, asking if this if the hope with which he dressed himself was "drunk."  That is, was it a hope that was made foolishly, as in a drunken state, so that that same hope, like a person with a hangover, is now awakened looking green and pale.

The hope to which Lady Macbeth refers is, of course, the hope that Macbeth will make it possible for the witches' prophecy to come true by killing Duncan.  Macbeth had agreed to do this vile deed, but just before these lines he reconsiders, especially because Duncan is both his king and his kin.  Even though the phrase “wherein you dress’d yourself” is metaphorical, it still echoes all the other references to dress such as “borrowed robes” and could be considered part of the clothing motif.

 

 

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