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I'm having trouble understanding this quote, "If it were done when 'tis done, then...

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arely | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 15, 2007 at 5:22 AM via web

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I'm having trouble understanding this quote, "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly". Can anyone help me? Thanks!

My English teacher told us that Macbeth's soliloquy in Act 1 Scene 7 is very important towards the rest of the play, but I'm having a hard time understanding this quote.

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted February 15, 2007 at 5:28 AM (Answer #1)

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"If it were done when 'tis done" means if the deed were at an end, completely finished, at the moment it is done; Macbeth thinks that if he could avoid (”trammel up” means catch in a net) the consequences of murder with the death (”surcease”) of Duncan, he would take a chance on the life to come (on earth, and in heaven or hell).

text of macbeth

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted May 11, 2007 at 3:56 AM (Answer #2)

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Macbeth is arguing with himself again about whether to murder King Duncan. If it could be done without causing problems later, then it would be good to do it soon. If Duncan's murder would have no negative consequences and be successfully completed with his death (surcease), then Macbeth would risk eternal damnation. He knows, however, that terrible deeds (bloody instructions) often backfire.

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