Which literary device is employed in this quote from Macbeth?  "Oh, I could play the woman with mine eyes and braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens, cut short all intermission. Front to...

Which literary device is employed in this quote from Macbeth? 

"Oh, I could play the woman with mine eyes and braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens, cut short all intermission. Front to front bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself. Within my sword’s length set him; if he ’scape, heaven forgive him too."

(Act 4 scene 3, lines 230-245)

Expert Answers
andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The literary device most effectively used in this quote is juxtaposition. In this technique two opposing ideas are placed side by side for dramatic effect. In this particular example it is used to indicate Macduff's anger at Macbeth having had his entire family remorselessly murdered. He is sworn to revenge and will stop at nothing to come face to face with Macbeth and exact his vengeance. One needs a closer look at the text to identify the contrast:

O, I could play the woman with mine eyes
And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,
Cut short all intermission; front to front
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
Within my sword's length set him; if he 'scape,
Heaven forgive him too!

In the first part of his rhetoric, Macduff states that he could be soft and gentle as a woman and be overcome with sadness and weep copiously for the death of his family or he could proclaim loudly and openly about how he was going to punish Macbeth for his evil.

The word 'but' introduces the contrast. Instead of doing just this, he wishes that there be no break or pause in time. He wants to immediately confront the fiendish Macbeth and face him, man to man, and thus engage him in direct battle so that he may avenge the cold-blooded murder of those he loved. This is the manly and courageous thing to do, in contrast to just crying and bragging about what he is going to do to Macbeth.

Macduff's resolve is clearly emphasized in this extract. He is determined and has the courage to confront the malignant tyrant and destroy him, as soon as possible.