In Act 1, Scene 4 of Macbeth, Duncan announces that Malcolm will be the next king.  What dramatic device does Macbeth use in contemplation?    

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Macbeth uses the device of a soliloquy , which is noted in the play's directions as an "aside." A soliloquy, be it short like this one or very long, occurs any time a character in a play expresses his innermost thoughts aloud so that the audience can learn what he...

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Macbeth uses the device of a soliloquy, which is noted in the play's directions as an "aside." A soliloquy, be it short like this one or very long, occurs any time a character in a play expresses his innermost thoughts aloud so that the audience can learn what he is thinking. We know this soliloquy is important because Shakespeare has Macbeth speaking in the formal cadences of rhyming couplets during most of it.

Having heard Duncan proclaim his son, Malcolm ,heir to the throne, Macbeth is lost in his own thoughts. The thoughts we overhear are as follows: Macbeth acknowledges that Malcolm is either a stumbling block (in other words, Malcolm can stop Macbeth from rising in power) or a meaningless obstacle Macbeth can leap over in his quest for the throne. Macbeth doesn't want to even speak of what he is thinking, which is of murdering Duncan. However, he states he wants to do the deed his eye doesn't want see—and he indicates that somehow he has to get Malcolm out of the way.

From this, we know that Macbeth is a very close relation to the king, as that is the only way he could be in line for the throne, but other than learning elsewhere he is a cousin, we have no further information. We also know that Duncan's generous words about having many titles to confer falls on deaf ears: there is only one title Macbeth craves and that is king.

We as an audience also know what nobody else in the play but Banquo knows, which is that Macbeth is reacting to the witches's prophecy that he will be king.

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As King Duncan announces that his son Malcolm will be heir to the throne, Macbeth notes to himself that Malcolm now stands between him and the crown. In the previous scene, Macbeth was visited by the three witches who prophesied that he would one day be king. During the meeting with Duncan in scene 4, Macbeth's contemplation of Malcom standing in his way is foreshadowing. He's considering how to hurdle the obstacle that is Malcolm and gain the throne, just as the witches declared. This is foreshadowing because Macbeth later goes on a very violent rampage in an attempt to become king.

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