Can I have an explanation of this quote by Lady Macbeth?O, never(65) Shall sun that morrow see! Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men May read strange matters. To beguile the time, Look like...

Can I have an explanation of this quote by Lady Macbeth?

O, never(65)
Shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue; look like the innocent flower,(70)
But be the serpent under't. He that's coming
Must be provided for; and you shall put
This night's great business into my dispatch, Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.(75)

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Macbeth Act I.v.66-76, Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth what he wants to hear.  She is his id, her words are his dagger, his vaulting ambition.  Her language, less adorned than his, issues simple commands filled with imagery related to time, the body, nature, the Bible, and the theme of "appearance versus reality."

According to Enotes' "Text and Translation," here's what she might say today:

O, the sun shall never
See that tomorrow!
Your face, my baron, is like a book where men
May read strange matters. To divert attention from the time
Look like the time; have welcome in your eyes,
Your hands, your tongue. Look like the innocent flower,
Only be the serpent underneath it. The king
Must be provided for. And you shall put
This night's great business into my care,
Which shall give kingly power and mastery alone
To all our nights and days to come.

Lady Macbeth knows that Macbeth is a seasoned killer of his foreign enemies (Norway, and the Irish), but he's been so loyal to Duncan for so long that he cannot even pretend to betray him.  She uses the simile "Your face is a book where men may read" your thoughts.  In other words, Macbeth looks guilty of plotting to murder the King.  So, in order to convince Macbeth to summon up all his guile to deceive and murder Duncan, she tells him to take lessons from her: "Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent underneath it."  Using a "Garden of Eden" analogy, Lady Macbeth (Eve) is complicit in Macbeth's (Adam) first great sin against God and country: regicide.

Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to leave the plan to her.  Whereas the witches gave Macbeth the idea of becoming king, Lady Macbeth will provide the means.  She will play the coy and gracious hostess, deflecting all suspicion, while Macbeth will murder him.  Their gender roles make them the perfect murderous duo.

Time imagery fills her monologue ("morrow," "time," "coming," "this night," "nights and days to come"), for she knows that they must act quickly.  They must kill Duncan while he is their guest.  Lady Macbeth cannot wait for them to become king and queen.  She wants royal power now.  All in all, her words call out Macbeth's manhood and sense of urgency, although really she's preachin' to the choir.

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