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What does Macbeth mean when he says, "We are yet but young in deed" in Act III, scene 4? 

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kaitlynterr | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 13, 2013 at 11:28 PM via iOS

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What does Macbeth mean when he says, "We are yet but young in deed" in Act III, scene 4? 

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 14, 2013 at 12:50 AM (Answer #1)

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This statement comes at the end of the scene in which Macbeth has seen the ghost of the recently-murdered Banquo. Deeply disturbed, he is reassured by his wife that the specter was only a figment of his imagination. Eventually, Macbeth agrees, and he says that because he and his wife have not much experience in murder and intrigue, it is perhaps natural to be haunted by such visions:

Come, we'll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse 
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use.
We are yet but young in deed.

By "initiate fear" he means that the two are inexperienced. Read in context, this quote could suggest that Macbeth recognizes that more murders will be necessary to maintain his position. They are "young in deed," but Macbeth doesn't seem to think they will stay that way.

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