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What does Macbeth mean when he says, "There's not a one of them but in his house/ I...

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faris525 | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted September 6, 2010 at 5:18 AM via web

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What does Macbeth mean when he says, "There's not a one of them but in his house/ I keep a servant fee'd" (3.4.132-33)?

in Macbeth

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 6, 2010 at 5:27 AM (Answer #1)

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What this is telling us is that Macbeth does not really trust anyone.  He is telling his wife that he has paid spies in the homes of every lord in Scotland, presumably.

This comes up because Macbeth says that Macduff will not come when Macbeth orders him to come.  He has not actually ordered Macduff to come and so Lady Macbeth wonders why he knows that Macduff will not obey.  That is the point when Macbeth speaks the line you mention.

When he says "not a one of them" he is referring to the lords.  By saying "a servant fee'd" he is referring to someone he has paid (given a fee) to work for him as a spy.

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