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What is the moment of anagnorisis in Macbeth?

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stacy-m | Student, College Freshman | eNoter

Posted January 20, 2013 at 12:26 PM via web

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What is the moment of anagnorisis in Macbeth?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 20, 2013 at 6:51 PM (Answer #1)

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There are a couple of candidates for this answer, but perhaps the clearest moment of anagnorisis in Macbeth occurs at the end, in the final scene, when Macduff informs Macbeth that he was "from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd." At this moment, Macbeth learns that the witches' prophecy is about to come true, and that he will die at the hands of Macduff. He fully recognizes this fact, saying that it has "cow'd my better part of man,"  he initially refuses to fight Macduff. Of course, he has already learned, in what could also be called a moment of anagnorisis, that Birnam Wood is advancing on the castle, which the witches also say is a harbinger of his death. But it is at the moment when he realizes that Macduff was "not of woman born" that he really knows his death is near.

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