Why did Macbeth make reference to the dogs in line 93-94 of scene 1?

1 Answer | Add Yours

kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Macbeth is persuading the murderers he has enlisted to dispatch Banquo and Fleance. He uses the metaphor of dogs to explain that there maybe a label for one species, but within the category there are many different types and characters.-

hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
Shoughs, waterrugs, and demi-wolves are clept
All by the name of dogs

He goes on to explain that each breed has its own skills and blessings which makes them  unique-

 The valued file
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
According to the gift which bounteous nature
Hath in him closed,

 Macbeth points out that it is unique qualities which exemplify a breed and which distinguishes them from others-

 ...whereby he does receive
Particular addition, from the bill
That writes them all alike

The implied dual meaning of ‘breeding’  and being ‘distinguished’ is Macbeth’s subtle way of implying that the murderers will be better men for carrying out the deed. He tells the murderers that they will be elevated from the lowest of the social spectrum to revered subjects-

Now if you have a station in the file,
Not i’ the worst rank of manhood, say it,
And I will put that business in your bosoms
Whose execution takes your enemy off,
Grapples you to the heart and love of us,


We’ve answered 317,574 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question