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In Act 1, Scene 6 ofMacbeth,Shakespeare uses many literary devices to enrich the layers of meaning within his text.
In this scene, Banquo uses personification of a bird to agree with King Duncan that Macbeth's castle seems pleasant:
"This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet does approve
By his loved mansionry that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here" (4-7).
Banquo extends the personification of the martlet throughout his short speech to Duncan, saying the bird approves of the castle because of the delicate air.
Duncan uses a riding jargon as he asks after Macbeth, saying "we coursed him at the heels," meaning they rode closely behind him. Thinking that Macbeth rode quickly, he compares Macbeth's love "sharp as his spur" which helped him home. This simile suggests that Macbeth's great love for his home was the driving force behind his fast pace.
In this scene, Duncan arrives at Macbeth's castle to be his guest and accept his hospitality. Shakespeare reinforces the irony of this scene every step of the way. The type of irony he uses is called dramatic irony, because the audience knows what Duncan does not: that the Macbeths plan to murder him.
The first irony is in Duncan's description of the setting. From the very first, Duncan misreads the scene, saying
This castle hath a pleasant seat. The airNimbly and sweetly recommends itselfUnto our gentle senses.
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed,The air is delicate.
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