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In the following quote from Macbeth, (in this context), what is the dramatic...

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nhl123 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted June 13, 2013 at 11:40 PM via web

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In the following quote from Macbeth, (in this context), what is the dramatic significance in terms of   character development, plot development, theme, imagery, atmosphere, dramatic irony, foreshadowing OR background information.

[ Select one and please mention below which one it is]

 

"Be this the whetshone of your sword. Let grief convert to anger; blunt not the heart, avenge it" 

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

Posted June 14, 2013 at 5:16 AM (Answer #1)

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In Macbeth, Macbeth himself, once he has started on his destructive path, seems unstoppable. He has no boundaries and his"vaulting ambition" and his fear have led him to commit unspeakable acts. MacDuff's allegiance to Malcolm is strong and he leaves for England to find Malcolm and persuade him to return and avenge his loss against Macbeth.  

The meeting between Malcolm and MacDuff in Act IV.iii. is Malcolm's attempt to ensure that MadDuff has not been sent by Macbeth. Although the rightful heir to the throne, Malcolm berates himself, claiming that "black Macbeth will seem as pure as snow"(52-3) in his attempts to ascertain MacDuff's allegiances. Once he is satisfied of MacDuff's "good truth and honor"(117) he can reveal that he is "tthine and my por country's to command."(131) 

MacDuff also learns that his entire family - "All my pretty ones"(216) has been wiped out.  Thus the quote

Be this the whetshone of your sword. Let grief convert to anger; blunt not the heart, avenge it (228-229)

contributes to PLOT DEVELOPMENT as Malcolm and MacDuff will return to rightfully claim the throne of Scotland. Macbeth has been exposed for the "fiend of Scotland"(233) that he is and they must "hold fast the mortal sword ...like good men"(4).

It is now up to Malcolm to convince MacDuff that Scotland is worth fighting for and he must use his grief to "convert to anger" and make him more determined to rid Scotland of "devilish Macbeth."(117) using his grief as the "whetstone of your sword" to drive him to help Malcolm as "our power is ready."(236)

This quote then ensures the audience that Macbeth must be stopped and "heaven forgive him too" (234) as MacDuff andMalcolm are steeled to do the right thing.

 

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