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In Macbeth, what is the dramatic significance of the following quote, in terms of one...

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nhl123 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted June 13, 2013 at 11:41 PM via web

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In Macbeth, what is the dramatic significance of the following quote, in terms of one of the following character development, plot development, theme, imagery, atmosphere, dramatic irony, foreshadowing or background information. [ Select one and please mention below which one it is]

"Here's the smell of blood still.  All perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." 

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

Posted June 14, 2013 at 5:45 AM (Answer #1)

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In Macbeth,Macbeth has become increasingly murderous and has excluded Lady Macbeth his "partner of greatness" (I.v.10) who was so instrumental in driving his "vaulting ambition"  (I.vii.27)initially.

Lady Macbeth in this quote:

"Here's the smell of blood still.  All perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." (V.i.48-50)

furthers the THEME of guilt and unchecked ambition as she sinks deeper into paranoid delusions, sleepwalking and almost talking in riddles. Having told Macbeth "a little water clears us of this deed"(II.ii.67), it is clear that, despite her attempts "Out damned spot!"(V.i.33) she cannot "wash" away her guilt. Lady Macbeth thought she had prepared herself sufficiently by "unsexing" herself but, even she, had no idea that Macbeth wold go to such lengths to satisfy his ambition.  

Lady Macbeth knows that she is parially responsible for Macbeth's actions  and "the smell of blood" still lingers as she is as guilty as he is. Lady Macbeth, for all her madness, does recognize that she cannot fix this as "All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."  

Hence the theme of guilt intensifies and Lady Macbeth "needs more the divine than the physician."(72)

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