Define metaphor and explain the second part of the comparison in Lady Macbeth's line in Act I, Scene v, lines 39-41.Lady Macbeth:"The raven himself is hoarseThat croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan...

Define metaphor and explain the second part of the comparison in Lady Macbeth's line in Act I, Scene v, lines 39-41.

Lady Macbeth:
"The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements"
(1.5.39-41)

Expert Answers
kristenfusaro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A metaphor is a comparison between two unlike objects.

In the time of Macbeth, 12th century Scotland, the people believed that the kingship was ordained by God, thus the king would have a similar connection to the land and nature as God. King Duncan would be strongly connected to all things earthly. The raven is symbolically connected to being an oracle, and because ravens are scavengers, they are often associated with the prophecy of death. If a raven is croacking to the point that he is hoarse, he is trying to send a strong message, and that message is the "fatal entrance" of Duncan. Lady Macbeth plans to have King Duncan over for dinner, and she plans to murder him that night. The metaphors here are that King Duncan is so connected to nature, the raven is croaking to the point of being "hoarse" trying to warn Duncan of his intended fate.

The second metaphor again connects the king to nature, as Shakespeare is using a pun on words--"The raven himself is hoarse"--implying that the raven is also like a "horse." The horse is symbolically strength and life-force, thus the raven croaking is also serving as a life-force in an attempt to forewarn the ordained king that his untimely death is approaching.