What is an example of imagery in Macbeth Act 1, Scene 3?

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Imagery is a description of sensory information: it can be visual (describing something we might see), auditory (describing something we might hear), olfactory (describing something we might smell), tactile (describing something we might touch), or gustatory (describing something we might taste). When the first witch compares herself to "a rat...

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Imagery is a description of sensory information: it can be visual (describing something we might see), auditory (describing something we might hear), olfactory (describing something we might smell), tactile (describing something we might touch), or gustatory (describing something we might taste). When the first witch compares herself to "a rat without a tail," she uses a visual image (1.3.10). Further, she describes her plans to torture a sailor because his wife would not share her chestnuts with the witch, saying, "I'll drain him dry as hay" (1.3.19). In this line, she uses an image that is both visual as well as tactile; we can imagine what the dry hay looks like as well as what such dry hay would feel like to touch (as opposed to wet or damp hay). When Macbeth and Banquo enter and are confronted by the Weird Sisters, Banquo says,

You seem to understand
me
By each at once her choppy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips. (1.3.44-47)

This is another visual image, as we can envision the way the witches' chapped and wrinkled fingers and their skinny lips would look. Banquo uses another visual image when he says, "The earth hath bubbles, as the water has" as well (1.3.82).

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The witches are very descriptive and use imagery to describe their doings.

Imagery is use of language to create a picture in the reader’s mind, or the audience’s mind in this case.  Imagery often takes the form of common figurative language like similes and metaphors.  A simile compares two things indirectly with “like” or “as” and a metaphor is a more direct comparison, saying something is something else.

An example of imagery can be found in the first witch’s speech.  She describes the sailor’s wife munching on chestnuts, which is a descriptive sensory detail that we can see and hear.  She also uses a simile.

But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
And, like a rat without a tail,
I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do. (Act 1, Scene 3)

When the witch describes herself as “like a rat without a tail” she is referring to her supposed clandestine travels.  She can possibly directly transform herself into a rat also, of course.  She is a witch!  In this case though, it is a simile because she says “like.” The other witch offers her a "wind" which may be literal or be a metaphor.  It may be that witches can conjure wind.

Another simile is used to describe the witches’ influence over Macbeth.  The first witch already has a plan for him.

 
I will drain him dry as hay

Hang upon his pent-house lid;
He shall live a man forbid:
Weary se'nnights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine (Act 1, Scene 3)

The witches are going to deliver the prophecies to Macbeth in order to put him off balance.  It is not entirely clear why they have chosen him, but all of their speeches seem to indicate that they desire mischief.  They are definitely making mischief in the kingdom by pitting Macbeth against Duncan!

Figurative language adds a lot to a play.  Since the witches are a source of mystery and interest, having them talk figuratively and use a lot of imagery helps establish their mystique.  The witches are making trouble, and seem to enjoy it.  We know that Macbeth is in for a wild ride.

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