Explain what Macbeth means when he says, "Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill" (3.2.56). Be explicit as you explain what Macbeth means/plans, and comment on the chaos of a world where...

Explain what Macbeth means when he says, "Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill" (3.2.56).

Be explicit as you explain what Macbeth means/plans, and comment on the chaos of a world where this statement could seem true.

Asked on by tuforlunch

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Simplistically, the following quote from Macbeth refers to the fact that things which are begun wrongly continue to be wrong if one continues to bring negative things to the table.

Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill

Macbeth knows that nothing good can come from actions done wrongly. Macbeth has gained the crown through the murder of Duncan. It is through this murder that Macbeth was able to gain the crown. The actions that Macbeth takes to keep the crown are all negative as well, attempted murder of others and lying to those around him.

This can be explained in simpler terms. Think about the telling of a lie. This one lie, if kept, requires many more lies to keep the truth from being exposed. The telling of more lies constitutes "make strong themselves by ill."  The first lie is defined by "Things bad begun."

Therefore, Macbeth is simply saying that the continuance of immoral behaviors makes the initial behavior worse. If Macbeth would have simply told the truth about his first sin (the murder) he would not have gone mad and lost his life.

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