What figure of speech is used in this line from "Macbeth" Act IV, Scene 3?" Let us rather, hold fast the mortal sword and like good men Bestride our downfall'n birthdom"Macbth Act4Sc3

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would say that there are two figures of speech used in this quote.  I would say that Shakespeare is using hyperbole and personification.

In this scene, Malcolm and Macduff are talking about what to do next.  Malcolm just wants to sit down and cry, but Macduff speaks the line you cite.  In it, he is saying that instead of sitting down and mourning, they should grab their swords and defend Scotland (their "birthdom").

I think this is hyperbole because the two of them alone cannot really defend Scotland -- Macduff is exaggerating what they can do so as to encourage Malcolm.

I think it is personification because "bestride" means to stand over someone who's on the ground and defend them.  Macduff is saying Scotland is like a wounded comrade lying on the ground and they have to bestride it and defend it.

coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

The simile 'like good men' in Act 4 Scene 3 of the play 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare is fascinating - and raises a lot of questions. Macbeth is not here saying that they Are 'good men.' He is saying that they should be 'like good men' and we may wonder if this is because he thinks that,inherently,they are not.  It could also mean that he thinks his companion (for sitting down miserably and being defeatist) is not. From this particular choice of words it looks as if Macbeth has certain qualities in mind when determining the goodness of a man (one who will not give up the fight,one who will defend his homeland,one who will not drop his guard for a minute as a 'mortal sword' and one who will not abandon the underdog when he's down.) One has to wonder at this point, which character has the greater grasp of reason - and which one is being defeatist/realistic.

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