Identify some of the figures of speech in Macbeth from Act 1 to Act simile, metaphor, personification, etc

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That's a tall order.  How about Act I, scene 4?

Speaking of the late traitor, the Thane of Cawdor, Malcolm says:

nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it; he died
As one that had been studied in his death
To throw away the dearest thing he owed,
As 'twere a careless trifle.

Like the witches, his language is equivocal, "nothing in his life / Became him like the leaving it."  Such an equivocation reveals paradox and irony, as it juxtaposes life and death.  It also foreshadows what will happen to Macbeth, the next traitorous Thane of Cawdor, at the end of the play.  The next line is a metaphor, "He died as one who had been studied in his death," which is again is paradoxical.

Duncan then says:

There's no art
To find the mind's construction in the face:
He was a gentleman on whom I built An absolute trust.

It is, of course, ironic that Duncan was gullible enough to trust Cawdor; he fails to study the death of a traitor as an omen.  The speech also reveals the theme of appearance versus reality using face (mask) imagery.

Duncan continues:

The sin of my ingratitude even now
Was heavy on me: thou art so far before
That swiftest wing of recompense is slow
To overtake thee.

He uses understatement and metaphor here to bestow blessings on Macbeth.  Notice the weight imagery: "heavy" juxtaposed with "wing."  Also, the time motif: "slow."

Macbeth responds:

Are to your throne and state children and servants,
Which do but what they should, by doing every thing
Safe toward your love and honour.

Shakespeare threads child imagery throughout the play.  The "throne" is a metonomic synonym for "the king."  He ends with irony: "safe," "love," "honor."

Banquo has the best line of the scene, using more child imagery:

There if I grow, / The harvest is your own.

It's irony and metaphor also, in that the "harvest" stands for Fleance, who will beget kings.

Duncan uses light / heavenly imagery after announcing his son as Prince of Cumberland:

But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine
On all deservers.

Macbeth will echo this line in his famous "stars hide your fires" aside later.  Macbeth also echoes Banquo's child imagery when he says, "The rest is labour," a pun.

The rest of Macbeth's aside uses more light/dark and body imagery:

Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

The eye / hand juxtaposition is the big one: does the eye know what the hand will do?  Later, Lady Macbeth will continually wring her hands while the doctor curiously eyes her.


kiara31110 | Student

okay . lets try ACT 4 SCENE1  line84 -85 is a personificaton and metaphor.

line 86 - is a similie

thanks for reading. cause thats all i know . you can also refer to . i have attatched the  hyperlink . thanks again