In Act II of Macbeth, what are examples of simile, hyperbole, personification, metaphor, irony, and imagery?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Scene 1, Banquo has a conversation with Macbeth but is not aware that Macbeth is plotting to kill King Duncan. However, the audience is aware of Macbeth's plot. This would classify as dramatic irony since the audience has knowledge of the plot while certain characters in the play are unaware of the situation.

In Scene 2, Macbeth laments about his restlessness and uses a metaphor by comparing his sleep to "great nature’s second course." Lady Macbeth then calls her husband a coward and uses a simile to compare dead bodies to harmless pictures by saying, "The sleeping and the dead are but as pictures."

In Scene 2, Macbeth uses a hyperbole to describe his guilt after killing King Duncan. After Lady Macbeth tells him to wash the blood off of his hands, Macbeth says,

"Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red" (2.3.60-64).

In Scene 3, Lennox describes the eerie night when King Duncan was murdered. He provides imagery of the chaotic night by saying,

"Our chimneys were blown down and, as they say, lamentings heard i' th' air, strange screams of death, and prophesying with accents terrible of dire combustion and confused events new hatched to the woeful time. The obscure bird clamored the livelong night" (2.3.29-35).

He then employs personification by commenting that the Earth shook and was "feverous."

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act II is rich in figurative language, opening immediately with personification. Banquo refers to the moon as "she." He then notices that "There's husbandry in heaven. Their candles are all out." Those in heaven who control such things have dimmed the stars for a dark night. This is also an example of metaphor; "candles" acts as a metaphor for the stars that Banquo cannot see on this night.

One passage of particularly vivid imagery describes Macbeth's "fatal vision" as he sees the daggar floating in the air before him. In front of his eyes, the dagger turns bloody: "And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before." During this same soliloquy, Macbeth talks of the wolf that "moves like a ghost," an example of simile. Within this simile, also can be found personification because the wolf is "murder's sentinel."

A memorable example of hyperbole can be found in Macbeth's expression of the guilt he feels after Duncan's murder. Macbeth wonders if an ocean could wash the blood from his hands, then responds: "No; this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine, / Making the green one red." The overstatement here is immense and effective.

A great irony in Act II is found at the end. The kings sons, Malcom and Donalbain, flee out of fear for their lives, but in doing so, they look guilty and are then suspected of murdering their own father.