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What literary devices are used in the following passage from "Macbeth"? LADY...

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pito156 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 18, 2008 at 4:35 AM via web

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What literary devices are used in the following passage from "Macbeth"?

LADY MACBETH: Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One- two -why then 'tis

time to do't. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and

afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our

power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have

had so much blood in him?

DOCTOR: Do you mark that?

LADY MACBETH: The Thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now? What,

will these hands neer be clean? No more o' that, my lord, no more

o' that. You mar all with this starting.

DOCTOR: Go to, go to; you have known what you should not.

GENTLEWOMAN: She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of that.

Heaven knows what she has known.

LADY MACBETH: Here's the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes

of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted May 18, 2008 at 6:35 AM (Answer #1)

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In listing literary devices used in this excerpt from Macbeth, you first have to look for what Shakespeare is known for: iambic pentameter. here are a few more:

internal rhyme: the Thane of Fife had a wife

personification: Heaven knows what she has known

hyperbole: All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand

alliteration: She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of that.

imagery: dirty hands, smell of blood

symbolism: smell of blood symbolizes Duncan's murder

Hope this helps!

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 18, 2008 at 7:00 AM (Answer #2)

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The use of the referral to Arabia is an allusion.  Everyone would know that wonderful perfumes and spices come from this area of the world and that further helps the audience to understand just how horrible her hands smelled to Lady Macbeth.

Dramatic Irony--the two are watching Lady Macbeth and gaining knowledge without her knowing they are there.  It is rather like in Romeo and Juliet when they are in the balcony scene and we know Romeo is listening in, but Juliet is quite unaware of his presence. 

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