What is the denotation and connotation of the word "creeps" as it is used in Macbeth Act V, scene v, line 20?

1 Answer | Add Yours

durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Denotation and connotation are considered the opposites of each other as connotation, which is widely used in Macbeth, associates a word, in this example, "creeps," with emotions and contextual images and tries to create or suggest that there is more to a situation. In Act V, scene v, Macbeth delivers his famous soliloquy after he is informed that Lady Macbeth, his former "Partner of Greatness" (I.v.10) is dead. The word "creeps" slows the pace of his futile attempt to defend his seat, convinced that "none of woman born" (IV.i.80) can stop him. Macbeth's trust in the witches prophesies and reliance on words he misunderstands confounds his confusion and reveals the usefulness of connotation in Macbeth.

The word "creeps" denotes moving slowly and things have certainly crept up on Macbeth. Its connotation suggests something far more sinister than this as Macbeth's delusions make him increasingly suspicious. Whilst denoting moving slowly, it also suggests stealth and caution, taking time to complete something underhand. Now that Lady Macbeth is dead, it seems that all Macbeth's efforts lead only to "dusty death." He has always known that his actions "cannot be good"(I.iii.131) and the "foul and fair" (30) day when the witches first shared his future with him, "is a tale Told by an idiot...signifying nothing."(V.v.26-28)


We’ve answered 319,425 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question