How can I paraphrase Macbeth's soliloquy in act I, scene 3  starts with "two truths are told.."?i've memorized it now i just need to paraphrase it but i dont know how and i dont really understand...

How can I paraphrase Macbeth's soliloquy in act I, scene 3  starts with "two truths are told.."?

i've memorized it now i just need to paraphrase it but i dont know how and i dont really understand what it means :l

ahh help

Asked on by chaden

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The passage you refer to is an aside in Macbeth act1 sc.3. An aside is a dramatic solo speech which functions as a complex instrument of self-revelation. Paraphrasing a Shakespeare aside, and that too of a self-divided protagonist, is far from an easy task. However, don't worry, and try to disentangle the language of Macbeth's moral-psychological conflict.

'Two truths' that Macbeth refers to are the two proclamations made by the first two witches: that Macbeth is the thane of Glamis, and that he is also the thane of Cawdor. Soon after the witches vanish, Ross & Angus appear on the scene, and the former tells Macbeth that the king has conferred the title of Cawdor on him. Macbeth looks upon these two truths as 'happy prologues to the swelling act/Of the imperial theme'. He imagines his rise to the kingship of Scotland to be like a dramatic performance which begins with a prologue, and then gradually unfolds its action through an upward-moving curve. The prophecy of the third witch relates to 'the imperial theme', and that is going to mark the summit of Macbeth's assumption of kingship. Macbeth then reflects on the 'supernatural soliciting', i.e. the witches' proclamations, and, already tempted within himself, he looks upon them, not as agents of evil (as Banquo does), but as neutral agents with prophetic power:'Cannot be ill; cannot be good'. Macbeth proceeds to examine the two sides of the 'soliciting' to justify its supposed neutrality. Since the first two of the three-fold 'soliciting' have come true in Macbeth's favour, it 'cannot be ill' & it 'cannot be good' either, for, in that case, why should the very thought of the third and final one fill him with horror? Macbeth's imaginative mind gets filled with horror because the third prophecy leads him to a horrifying vision, presumably of the murder of Duncan:'horrid image' that frightens him so much as to 'unfix' his hair and make his heart 'knock' at his 'ribs'. Real fears seem to him much less than his imaginative fear('horrible imaginings'), and this fear, associated with the thought of murder, transports him out of the real state of things, which now seems to Macbeth all but 'fantastical', into another state of things in which the fanciful appears to be real. The witches in their proclamations made no suggestion of murder; but, by 'yielding' to that auto- suggestion, Macbeth feels that his whole human integrity('my single state of man') is being shaken. He feels that all his will-power is trapped in a stasis of imaginings, and nothing actually exists.

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kpiteach | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

When looking to paraphase, especially when working with Shakespeare or any play that you do not understand, you should start by looking at the bits and pieces that you do recognize (like words and phrases that you know).  And then think about what you know has occured within the play already.  Make sure what you are paraphasing contextually makes sense.

I also suggest looking at the enotes on that portion of the play.  Combine your knowledge with what the book notes say to create a paraphase that makes logical sense.

Additionally, Shakespeare can be a little tricky...keep in mind that sometimes there is inuendo and jokes masked within the words of his plays.  Keep your eyes open for double meanings!

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