Explain the pair of couplets at the end of Act 1.2 of Macbeth.
In Act I scene II, explain:
"Go pronounce his present death,
And with his former title greet Macbeth"
"I'll see it done."
"What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won."
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On the way back from battle, the King is ordering the death of one of his men (a traitor), the Thane of Cawdor. His title will now go to Macbeth who fought so valiantly in the battle against Norway. Macbeth has impressed the King and is now one step closer to becoming King himself--as the witches predicted. However, in this scene, the reader sees how Macbeth's second prophesy has come true while Macbeth has not yet been informed. This is dramatic irony, and it will lead to Macbeth's ambitious plan to take over.
Here we see King Duncan interacting with one of the other distinguished noblemen of his court. He has declared that one of his noblemen, the Thane of Cawdor, has been deemed a traitor and will suffer the punishment of death for his crimes. He also declares that Macbeth will receive this title due to his distinction in battle (in warding off two approaching armies!). Simultaneously, Macbeth receives a prophesy from the three witches in the woods and is apprehensive in believing what they tell him (that he will be Thane of Cawdor first and subsequently King of Scotland). The nobleman announcing to Macbeth that he has become the Thane of Cawdor is the moment in the play that sets off a domino effect causing all of the other events which occur later. For example, because Macbeth learns that he will be Thane of Cawdor he also believes that the prophesy about becoming king is true as well. Further, he goes through plotting and killing in order to attain the title of King due to the first prophesy coming true and leading him to believe that this order of events is in fact preordained to occur. Moreover, this rise in rank and corresponding prophesy are enough to encourage Lady Macbeth to begin her own plotting and prepare Macbeth to murder Duncan. This sequence of events serves to cause a cascade of events leading to Macbeth's downfall. This particular moment is what many believe brings into question the idea that Macbeth controls his own destiny. Between the prophesy that spurs Macbeth to kill in cold blood and the manipulation from his wife, Macbeth's thirst for ambition cannot be squelched by his conscience.
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