Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Explain this quote from Macbeth: "Have pluckd my nipple from his boneless gums / and dashd the brains out, had I so sworn as you / have done to this."

When Lady Macbeth says, "Have pluckd my nipple from his boneless gums / and dashd the brains out, had I so sworn as you / have done to this," she is describing how she would rather kill her own child than live through the shame of going back on their word. This example is meant to show how far Lady Macbeth would go for the crown and to shame Macbeth for changing his mind about killing Duncan.

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When Macbeth wants to back out of the plan to kill Duncan and take his throne, his wife resorts to insulting and emasculating him in order to compel him to resubmit to her will. She asks him,

Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life
And live a coward in thine own esteem [...]? (1.7.43–47)

She accuses him of lacking the courage to do the things he needs to do to get what he wants. She suggests that he will have to think of himself as a coward for not taking this opportunity to snatch the crown if he chooses not to move forward. Lady Macbeth first implies that he is not really a man and then directly says so. She tells him,

When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. (1.7.56-58)

In other words, she says to him, you were a real man when you were willing to do this deed, and if you would choose to do it now, then you would be more...

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harrypotterfan123 | Student

Lady Macbeth emotional blackmails Macbeth”Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this." She tells Macbeth that had she made a promise, even to destroy her only child at its most innocent and defenceless state she would have. This is influencing Macbeth’s emotions so that he feels he is bound to doing the same, to keep to his word as she says she would sacrifice a part of herself for him.