Macbeth Act I scene 4: Identify literary devices and explain how the literary device is used in these words?Give the number of the lines in brackets.

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face: He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust" (12-15).  In this quote, Duncan uses a building metaphor.  Using the comparison of "construction," Duncan relates knowing the mind of a man to being able to read his face.  He speaks of building trust, but the reality is that Duncan speaks of a man who betrayed him.   He could not rely on outward appearance alone.

"I have begun to plant thee, and will labour to make thee full of growing" (28-29).  Duncan uses a planting metaphor to describe the ways that he will encourage and help his kinsmen be successful.  The metaphor also extends to how Banquo will grow in Duncan's heart.  Banquo responds, still buying into Duncan's comparison, that "the harvest is your own" (34).  The idea of harvest, crops, and planting suggests growth and development, emotionally and socially for Banquo as well as Duncan.

Macbeth also joins in with metaphor of his own as he compares the Prince of Cumberland to a "step on which I must fall down, or else o'er leap" (48-49).  This comparison reveals that Macbeth sees the prince as an obstacle which must be overcome, foreshadowing Macbeth's ambitious desire to reach the throne. 

Personification also occurs in lines 50-52, as Macbeth commands the stars to "hide your fires," so they would not see his "black and deep desires."  Macbeth's address to the stars reveals his true intent, in an aside to the audience.  The stars also symbolize fate.



favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Malcolm relates a conversation he had with someone who saw the old Thane of Cawdor executed, he says that the old thane died

As one that had been studied in his death
To throw away the dearest thing he owed
As 'twere a careless trifle. (1.4.10-12)

The simile, a comparison of two unalike things using like or as, compares the nobleman, just as he was about to be executed, to someone who has practiced how to throw away his most valued possession as though it were nothing. In other words, then, the thane died with some dignity and honor, without histrionics or drama.  

Then, when Duncan thanks him for his wonderfully loyal service to the crown, Macbeth says,

Your Highness' part
Is to receive our duties, and our duties
Are to your throne and state children and servants,
Which do but what they should by doing everything
Safe toward your love and honor.  (1.4.26-30)

Here, Macbeth uses a metaphor, a comparison of two unalike things where one says that something is something else. He says that it is Duncan's duty to accept the loyalty and service of others and that his subjects have a duty to him, just as children owe to their parents and servants to their masters. In doing everything possible to secure Duncan's safety, they are only doing what duty requires. He compares Duncan's subjects to children and servants in terms of their duty.