In Act III, Scene I of Macbeth (and only scene I please), what are the literary devices used?I cannot find that many and I know that they are everywhere.  Please help!

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Banquo, speaking to himself, says, "If there come truth from [the Weird Sisters] / (As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine)," he uses a metaphor (3.1.5-6).  He compares the Weird Sisters' speeches to Macbeth—most importantly, that he would become king—to a light that seems to shine on him.

When Lady Macbeth, talking about Banquo, tells Macbeth, "If he had been forgotten, / It had been as a gap in our great feast," she employs a simile (3.1.12-13).  She compares Banquo's potential absence to a physical gap.  In other words, it would have been felt keenly and quite noticeable.

Banquo tells Macbeth, "Let your Highness / Command upon me, to the which my duties / Are with a most indissoluble tie / Forever knit" (3.1.17-20).  Here, he uses a metaphor to compare the strength of his loyalty to Macbeth to a bind that cannot be weakened or destroyed.

In his soliloquy, Macbeth says, "Our fears in Banquo / Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature / Reigns that which would be feared" (3.1.53-55).  Here, he personifies the qualities that Banquo possesses.  These qualities rule Banquo and concern Macbeth a great deal.

Later in this speech, he says, "To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings" (3.1.75).  Obviously, he is not referring to actual seeds, but he is substituting "seeds" for "children"—this is called metonymy: when you substitute something associated with the thing you mean for that thing.  

Then, when speaking to the murderers, Macbeth asks, "Are you so gospeled / To pray for this good man and for his issue, / Whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave / And beggared yours forever?" (3.1.98-101).  He uses hyperbole, or overstatement, to suggest that Banquo is responsible for the terrible misfortune that has befallen these men (though not quite death) and their posterity forever.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act II, Scene I of Macbeth there are these literary devices:

  • Banquo, after congratulating Macbeth on being King, speaks to Macbeth in metaphor:  "I must become a borrower of the night" (26) 
  • With figurative language, Banquo says that he will be gone for a "dark hour or twain" (27) 
  • Macbeth,too, uses a figure of speech as he says, "We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed/In England..." (29-30)
  • Macbeth uses a metaphor as he says, "Let every man be master of his time" (40)


  • Macbeth uses a simile:  My genius is rebuked, it is said/Mark Antony's was by Caesar"  (57)
  • Macbeth uses metaphors:  Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown/And put a barren scepter in my gripe [meaning he has no heirs] (61,62)
  • Macbeth uses synedoche:  "Then to be wrenched with an unlineal hand" (the hand represents his body and descendants)
  • Macbeth uses metaphors: "the vessel of my peace...and mine eternal jewel [soul]" (68-69)


  • Macbeth employs a simile:  "Ay, in the catlogue ye go for men;/As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs...(93-94)
  • Macbeth employs figures of speech:  "barefaced power" (119) "dark hour" (137) [Banquo's] soul's flight (141)
Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Concerning your question about Shakespeare's Macbeth, I'll just start at the beginning of the scene and list a few devices for you.

  • Soliloquy--Banquo's opening speech
  • Repetition--"As the Weird Women promised"
  • Metaphor--"played'st"
  • Metaphor--"stand"
  • Metaphor--"root"
  • Metaphor--"shine"
  • Metaphor--"gap"
  • Metaphor--"Forever knit"
  • Metaphor--"take"
  • Metaphor--"fill up"
  • Metaphor--"borrower of the night"

You get the idea, and that's enough of metaphor.  Irony is also involved at the beginning of the scene.  When Macbeth tells Banquo not to miss the feast tonight, that is ironic because Macbeth knows Banquo will not be at the feast tonight, since he's going to have him killed.  The same irony occurs when Macbeth tells Banquo that the two of them will discuss Malcolm and Donaldbain on the next day. 

Finally, I'll "throw in" some personification.  When Macbeth says that Banquo's wisdom does "guide his valor" (Act 3.1.55) he is personifying valor, just as he personifies genius when he says "My genius is rebuked" (Act 3.1.58).