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Explain the metaphor "why do you dress me in borrowed robes" from...

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june2608 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 20, 2009 at 6:56 AM via web

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Explain the metaphor "why do you dress me in borrowed robes" from "Macbeth".

I honestly dont know what this means Help please!!!

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troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted January 20, 2009 at 7:24 AM (Answer #1)

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Ross and Angus show up in Act 1, scene 3 to deliver news to Macbeth.  Currently Macbeth has the title of Thane of Glamis.  When Ross addresses Macbeth with news from the king, he says,

"He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor:
In which addition, hail, most worthy thane!
For it is thine."

Because Macbeth has fought so brilliantly in battle, and the former Thane of Cawdor has proven to be a traitor, the king has had the former put to death, and has given Macbeth the deserving title.  So when they approach him Macbeth says "borrowed robes" because that title has never been his, it is a borrowed title in his eyes.  He doesn't deserve such a title--and he had just heard the witches' prophesy, so that takes him off guard as well.  Once they explain the situation to him, Macbeth accepts the title.

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makoena | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 9, 2009 at 5:26 PM (Answer #2)

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To be dressed in borrowed robes means, to be given a title that is not rightfully yours or to be given credit that is not due you.

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