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"Infected be the air whereon they ride,/and damned all those that trust...

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nikifal | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 21, 2007 at 7:10 PM via web

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"Infected be the air whereon they ride,/and damned all those that trust them!" What does that quote mean and suggest about Macbeth?

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allyson | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted October 21, 2007 at 8:07 PM (Answer #1)

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This is a response Macbeth has to what the witches have told him. He is basically saying that he does not trust their message, namely that he is "damned." Instead he says that those who believe the witches will be damned. Because Macbeth fails to consider their warning, it shows his arrogance.

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 21, 2007 at 8:45 PM (Answer #2)

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Yet, he has already succomb to their seduction; not only the air has been infected by him, but so has he.  In fact, an early definition of "evil" still current during Shakespeare's time was that of an infection, in someways growing out of the understanding of the black plague as an evil that spread.  "Damned all those that trust them" is ironic because he damns himself but more out of frustration than anything else because he cannot control them in the way they have a control over him.  Just as he wants more information, "poof"! they vanish. Yet of course the other irony is he is indeed "damned" for trusting them for more information for him to realize his now pernicious dreams of power.

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zozo123 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 30, 2011 at 1:07 AM (Answer #3)

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he's saying he's damned himself.

 

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