Macbeth Act I scene 7 : Explain how various literary devices are used in this scene.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Macbeth, Act 1, scene 7, Macbeth contemplates murdering the king. He uses a hunting metaphor in the first lines of his soliloquy:

"It were done quickly. If the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,
With his surcease, success;" (2-4)

In these opening lines, Macbeth ponders the risk of killing Duncan, and compares the act of murder to catching some wild animal.  The connotation of the word 'trammel' suggests trapping or catching the consequences along with his murder.  He portrays the murder as a trap, and wishes to catch success along with Duncan's death.

Macbeth also uses an ocean metaphor a few lines later to depict time:

"But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'd jump the life to come." (6-7)

He compares this moment in time to a 'shoal' or a sandbar out in the ocean; the metaphor suggests the isolation and insecurity that Macbeth feels in having to make this decision.

Later, in pondering Duncans' virtues, Macbeth uses a simile to compare the strength of the king's character to angels:

"So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against
The deep damnation of his taking-off" (18-20).

Macbeth worries that Duncan's attributes are so great that they will plead against his murder and ultimately reveal Macbeth as his murderer.  The phrase "Like angels trumpet-tongued" also begins a strong  allusion to Christian beliefs with references to Heaven, cherubin, and "couriers of the air" (23).



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