Homework Help

In the Old Man's Dialogue in Act II, scene iv in Macbeth, what symbolizes King Duncan?

user profile pic

metalmulisha47 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 24, 2011 at 10:18 AM via web

dislike 1 like

In the Old Man's Dialogue in Act II, scene iv in Macbeth, what symbolizes King Duncan?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 24, 2011 at 8:47 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

In this scene, the Old Man tells Ross of the unnatural events that have been occurring lately.  He tells of a falcon being killed by an owl.  A falcon is a bird that an owl would not usually be able to kill.  A falcon is a bird associated with royalty who participated in the sport of falconry down through the ages.  King Duncan is the figurative falcon killed by the figurative owl, Macbeth.  Macbeth is, like the owl who hunts at night, one who prefers the dark in which to do his business. Macbeth asked the stars to hide their fires before he killed Duncan and it was a starless night when he committed the deed.

user profile pic

lensor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted January 24, 2011 at 8:32 PM (Answer #2)

dislike -1 like

The old man states, "On Tuesday last/A falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place,/Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed."  The falcon is King Duncan, and the owl is Macbeth.  Within this dialogue, references are also made to disturbances in Nature, which represent the unnatural nature of the murder.

user profile pic

lensor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted January 24, 2011 at 8:38 PM (Answer #3)

dislike -1 like

In my previous post, I failed to include a link to the etext of the tragedy.  You can access the text to review the dialogue at http://www.enotes.com/macbeth.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes