I need help analyzing these quotes from MacBeth.Analysis of the quote from MacBeth. "Which honor must not unaccompanied invest him only, but signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine on all...

I need help analyzing these quotes from MacBeth.

Analysis of the quote from MacBeth.

"Which honor must not unaccompanied invest him only, but signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine on all deservers."

Duncan (1.4.41-42)

"To beguile time, look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, but be the serpant under."

Lady MacBeth (1.5.63-64)

"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly."

MacBeth (1.7.1-2)

"And make our faces vizards to our hearts, disguising what they are."     *vizards: masks

MacBeth (3.2.34-35)

Expert Answers
Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I can help you interpret these lines from Shakespeare's Macbeth.

The first one means:

Malcolm will not be the only one honored, but honors, like stars, will shine on everyone who deserves it.

Second (actually lines 65-68):

In order to deceive the people tonight, you must look like them (or, how they expect you to look).  Be welcoming with your eyes facial expressions), your hands (handshake?), and your tongue (figuratively speaking).  Look like the innocent flower, but be the snake that hides beneath it.


If it were over and done with (truly over and done with) once it were done, then it would be well if it were done quickly.  (If doing it was all there was to it, he'd do it quickly.  The implication is that there are complications and consequences.)


[We must] make our faces masks to our hearts (make our faces hide what is in our hearts), disguising what they are (they=their hearts).

Hope this helps.

nusratfarah | Student


1) King Duncan, after achieving victory in the battle, decides to bestow his kingdom on his eldest son Malcolm. But, at the same time, he declares that Malcolm is not going to be honoured alone at this night; along with the prince, other noblemen who fought courageously like brave warriors will be endowed with proper tribute too.

2) Duncan and his companions have come as guests to Macbeth's house. Lady Macbeth is telling his husband that if he fails to hide his nervousness and does look such troubled, it may arouse suspicion in others’ minds. He should welcome the king with a warm expression in eyes and hands, and with noble, greeting words. He has to wear a mask, should look as innocent as a flower, but has to be venomous and fatal like the serpent which remains hidden under the flower. Here Lady Macbeth is instigating her husband and preparing him mentally for the step they are going to take. Actually, the playwright is paving way for Duncan to face a dramatic irony.

3) Macbeth is in dilemma thinking whether he should kill his king or not. The king has the divine power, besides, he is Duncan’s relative. Duncan is very good and popular not only as a king but also as a human. And there prevails a fear in Macbeth’s mind of being punished in the afterlife for committing such heinous crime. It is only his ambition which is forcefully stimulating against these logic: “Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself/ And falls on th' other”. So, he just wants to finish the task of murdering Duncan as soon as possible, and give his ambition fulfilment. He, as a morally weak person, does not have the strength to bear the torment any longer. He wants to hurry, otherwise his dilemma can distract him.

4) By this time, Duncan has been killed, and Banquo has begun to suspect Macbeth more than ever. A feast has been arranged at Macbeth’s house. Macbeth is worried for he knows Banquo is now a danger for him. Anxious Macbeth says to his wife that at tonight’s dinner-party, she must greet the guest, Banquo, with a cheerful face wearing a mask, and must flatter him in order to win his trust. Here, Macbeth is saying to Lady Macbeth to do the same thing in front of Banquo what Lady Macbeth asked him to do once in front of Duncan (act 1, scene 5).

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