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What does, “I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning...

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leighanne | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 10, 2008 at 8:13 AM via web

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What does, “I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er,” (Macbeth:Act 3) mean?

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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted November 10, 2008 at 8:37 AM (Answer #1)

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Macbeth's image is of somebody standing in a river of blood. He has stepped into the river so far that, even if he continues no further forward, the distance to the side he faces is just as far as the distance should he turn back to the side he climbed in.

Going forward, in other words, would be as difficult, as "tedious", as going back. The metaphor, of course, represents Macbeth's crimes: and rather than stop committing crimes (presumably, for fear of damnation) Macbeth says that he might as well continue to commit them. One is as pointless ("tedious") as the other.

But - and this is the interesting character point - Macbeth's word "tedious" can also mean "boring", implying that Macbeth is detatched, unsympathetic, and icily cold about the awful crimes and murders that he has committed. It's the start of what Harold Bloom has commented on in the play - that, while Lady Macbeth goes emotionally mad, Macbeth stays horribly, coldly sane.

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thenutter | Student | eNoter

Posted February 10, 2010 at 12:28 AM (Answer #2)

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it means that he has killed so many that he has to keep on going to avoid suspicion so he kills one then he has to kill the witness and then the person that witnessed that ect...

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