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Is there dramatic irony in Act 3, Scene 2 of Macbeth?

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chloe2212 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 17, 2010 at 7:35 AM via web

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Is there dramatic irony in Act 3, Scene 2 of Macbeth?

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gowens1 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 17, 2010 at 2:21 PM (Answer #1)

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The "dramatic irony" is found in the reversal of roles between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.  In the beginning of Macbeth, she is the leader and he the follower. In act I, scene 5, she says to her tentative and circumspect husband, "Bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue.  Look like th' innocent flower, but be the serpent under't" (ll.75-78).  In act III, scene 2, however, it is Macbeth who leads, saying to his worried and harried wife, regarding Banquo, "present him eminence both with eye and tongue...and make our faces vizards to our hearts, disguising what they are" (ll. 35-39).  Lady Macbeth, who formerly had to push and prod her husband to action, is now straining, unsuccessfully, to hold him back.  Macbeth, who formerly lacked "the illness that should attend" ambition (I,5,ll.19-20) and was "too full o' th' milk of human kindness" (I,5,ll.17), is now seemingly unstoppable in his quest for uncontested power.

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