In Act II of Macbeth, what are examples of simile, hyperbole, personification, metaphor, irony, and imagery?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Act II is rich in figurative language, opening immediately with personification. Banquo refers to the moon as "she." He then notices that "There's husbandry in heaven. Their candles are all out." Those in heaven who control such things have dimmed the stars for a dark night. This is also an example of metaphor; "candles" acts as a metaphor for the stars that Banquo cannot see on this night.

One passage of particularly vivid imagery describes Macbeth's "fatal vision" as he sees the daggar floating in the air before him. In front of his eyes, the dagger turns bloody: "And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before." During this same soliloquy, Macbeth talks of the wolf that "moves like a ghost," an example of simile. Within this simile, also can be found personification because the wolf is "murder's sentinel."

A memorable example of hyperbole can be found in Macbeth's expression of the guilt he feels after Duncan's murder. Macbeth wonders if an ocean could wash the blood from his hands, then responds: "No; this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine, / Making the green one red." The overstatement here is immense and effective.

A great irony in Act II is found at the end. The kings sons, Malcom and Donalbain, flee out of fear for their lives, but in doing so, they look guilty and are then suspected of murdering their own father.


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