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What common human feeling is Macbeth expressing when he says, "My thought.../Shakes so...

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besnybear2014 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 23, 2013 at 2:50 PM via web

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What common human feeling is Macbeth expressing when he says, "My thought.../Shakes so my single state of man that funtion/Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is/But what is not"? How does the quote relate to the "fair is foul" theme in Macbeth?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 23, 2013 at 3:38 PM (Answer #1)

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Macbeth is expressing fear and doubt, which are very human emotions, and is aware of the contradictions in the initial prophecies.

Macbeth comments that the involvement of the witches cannot be good and cannot be bad.  This demonstrates doubt and confusion on his part, because he is not sure what is happening and how to feel about it. 

This supernatural soliciting

Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,

Why hath it given me earnest of success,

Commencing in a truth? (Act 1, Scene 3)

This demonstrates the very human reaction Macbeth has to the witches’ prophecies.  He is not sure what to think, but he is concerned.  At the same time, he is pleased to have the opportunity to be king, and not too apt to question it.

This demonstrates that at this early point Macbeth is still very human, and still has typical concerns and confusion.

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