In Act 4, scene 3, of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, how might one explain the effects of one literary device?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Macduff comes to Malcolm at the English court, he describes how terribly Scotland is doing under the Macbeths' reign.  He is desperate to convince Malcolm to come home and overthrow Macbeth, since Malcolm is Duncan's oldest son and the rightful heir to the throne.  Macduff says, "Each new morn / New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows / Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds / As if it felt with Scotland and yelled out / Like syllable of dolor" (4.3.54-58).  In these lines, Macduff uses hyperbole (an overstatement or exaggeration of the truth) to demonstrate just how awful things are in Scotland right now.  It feels like there are new tragedies every day, and the innocent suffer over and over and again.  The hyperbole, thus, emphasizes how badly it feels to be in Scotland right now.  Further, Macduff personifies Scotland's sorrows, making them so significant and profound that they seem to have the ability to reach out and strike heaven's face.  Further, he personifies heaven as being so distraught on Scotland's behalf that it actually cries out in pain for the country.  These all have the effect of highlighting just how quickly and fully Macbeth has corrupted the once-prosperous country as well as how terribly tyrannical Macbeth has become.

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Macbeth

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