The play Macbeth has been praised for its symmetry. In what ways is the play's structure symmetrical?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way in which the play is symmetrical is that it begins and ends with a war brought on by a rebellion. In the opening act, Macbeth defends Duncan, the king of Scotland, against the rebel Macdonwald, killing the traitor. This act elevates him to the position of Thane of Cawdor. The play ends with another battle, again involving Macbeth. This time Macbeth is king, and he faces a rebellion led by Malcolm (Duncan's son,) and Macduff. Macduff now plays the role of loyal thane, killing Macbeth and restoring the legitimate monarch to the throne. Another interesting symmetry in the play is the way that Lady Macbeth assumes, in a way, Macbeth's guilt. At first it is Macbeth who is consumed by guilt at the murder of Duncan. His visions are manifestations of his guilt. By the end of the play it is Lady Macbeth who is tormented by visions, and by the time she takes her own life, he is a remorseless monster, just as she was at the beginning of the play. These symmetries are reasons that Macbeth is such a compelling play.

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Macbeth

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