What are examples of literary devices in Macbeth Act 1?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In act 1, scene 1, there are many examples of end rhyme in the weird sisters' speech. At the end of the scene, they chant altogether,

Fair is foul, and foul is fair
Hover through the fog and filthy air. (1.1.12-13)

Here, they employ alliteration—the repetition of the "f" sound in "fair," "foul," "foul," "fair," "fog," and "filthy." This particular sound, when repeated, begins to sound dirty or sordid, an association appropriate given the statement's meaning and the sisters' intent.

In act 1, scene 2, the captain employs a simile to compare Macbeth and Banquo to weaker animals who must fight more predatory ones. When asked if the Norwegian king, with his fresh troops, was frightening to these two soldiers, the Captain says, "Yes, as sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion" (1.2.35). He compares them to sparrows who must face eagles or hares that must face lions.  And yet they do fight, proving their valor again. The captain also uses an allusion when he refers to "Golgotha," the site where Jesus was crucified in the Bible (1.2.40).

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You might like to examine a scene such as Act I scene 2 and focus on the literary devices that this scene contains. One of the notable examples of literary devices is the way that the Captain reports the deeds of Macbeth in battle and how he is compared to various things to emphasise his valour, bravery and skill in warfare. Note the following examples of similes:

Doubtful it stood;

As two spent swimmers, that do cling together

And choke their art.

Here the Captain describes the fight between the two sides and how close it was, comparing the armies to two exhausted swimmers who can not beat the other because of their fatigue. However, it is Macbeth, who enters "like Valour's minion" who wins the day and tips the balance of the battle.

These are some of the examples of literary devices in this scene, but there are plenty of others, so hopefully now that I have shown you what you are looking for you can go back and identify other examples of literary devices in Act I. Good luck!

thewaiter | Student

Are there any others?

kutefairytale | Student

I was able to find a few in Act I scene i as well as scene ii.

Act I scene i:

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair" is an example of a chiasmus

"when the battles lost and won" forshadowing

"when the hurlyburly's done, when  the battle is lost and won"- end ryhme


Act I scene ii;

"showed like a rebel's whore"- simille

there are ALOT of similies in scene ii, I'm sure you can find them!

Hope this helped!