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Pick significant quotations from Act III of Macbeth that correspond to a) the effect...

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supersmartpants | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted March 23, 2013 at 3:16 AM via web

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Pick significant quotations from Act III of Macbeth that correspond to a) the effect of guilt on the conscience

 

b) The manipulation of gender rules

c) Appearences vs reality

d) Order vs chaos

e) The power of ambition

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:37 AM (Answer #1)

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Macbeth is indeed rich with references to various themes. I have dealt with the theme of guilt on the conscience as eNotes rules do not allow the answering of more than question at a time. Refer to the eNotes links below and to the study guides for details of the themes and quotes to support them.

Most famously, Macbeth whilst contemplating the futility of life after hearing of Lady Macbeth's death, is almost overcome. His guilt may not be apparent but it is the guilt that has created this situation as Lady Macbeth was unable to cope with her guilt at what she led Macbeth to do:

 it is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. (V.v)
   

Macbeth is often confused about the prophesies and his part in making them come true. His guilt and fear intermingle to reinforce his misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the prophesies and his own future. In one of his moments of remorse he realises the full extent of what he has done - the ocean is vast and cannot even help him:

What hands are here? Ha, they pluck out mine eyes! Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? (II.i)

Lady Macbeth's contribution to this tragedy is significant as she is initially the driving force behind Macbeth. She constantly urges him and checks up on him. Her relationship with Macbeth is her only form of nurturing as in all other aspects she has "desexed" herself. She is anxious to protect Macbeth from himself as well as maintain their secret and she is aware that he is volatile. Symbolically "washing" away the proof and therefore the guilt will allow him to go on to commit more heinous crimes although Lady Macbeth's intention was actually to prevent knowledge of Duncan's murders and she did not intend to serve as encouragement to go on a killing spree:

Go get some water,/ And wash this filthy witness from your hand (II.i)

When Lady Macbeth is indeed driven to madness by her contribution to Macbeth's deeds, the doctor confirms that there is nothing clinical that can be done:

More needs she the divine than the physician.(V.i.) 

Lady Macbeth has been rambling and the concept of dealing with guilt, present from the beginning when she convinced Macbeth that he could "wash away" his guilt is reinforced:

Out damned spot!(V.i)

is a very famous quote of Lady Macbeth and was her answer to everything - until now when she realises that, despite believing to the contrary initially they cannot now escape their conscience:

What's done cannot be undone' (V.i)

which contrasts with "What's done is done" (III.ii) when she was still fully confident of the means justifying the end.

It is the

psychological burden of their sins

that ultimately destroys both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

 

 

 

Sources:

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