What are some examples of clothing imagery in Macbeth?Context and analysis would be greatly appreciated.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Act 1, scene 7, when Macbeth tells his wife he wants to call off the assassination of Duncan, she berates him with a speech beginning

Was the hope drunk

Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since?

And wakes it now, to look so green and pale

At what it did so freely?

The metaphor suggests that Macbeth put on the royal crown and dressed himself in the royal robes while drunk, then wakes up in the morning and is frightened by seeing himself dressed in the King's garments and wants to get out of them before anybody sees him. It is common for people to do and say things when they are intoxicated and have lost their inhibitions, only to wake up the next morning and remember with shame and apprehension what they did the night before. This is why this metaphor is so effective.

In Act 5, scene 2, when the English forces augmented with Scottish deserters are preparing to attack Macbeth, Angus says of Macbeth

Now does he feel his title

Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe

Upon a dwarfish thief.

Macbeth was never qualified to play the role of King. Instead, he became a tyrant, ruling by force and terror rather than by divine right.

These are two of the most striking examples of clothiing imagery in the play.


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