What are some good passages to annotate in Macbeth? Please provide act and scene or page references.

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dkaye's profile pic

dkaye | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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Try taking a look at Lady Macbeth's famous "out, damned spot!" speech. You can find the speech at Act 5, Scene 1, starting around line 30. She speaks while sleepwalking, and many critics interpret her anguish in this late scene as the result of her violence and cruelty in the earlier parts of the play.

Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then
'tis time to do't.—Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?

Throughout the play, Macbeth has been hesitant to be violent, while Lady Macbeth has mercilessly pushed him forward. However, this scene shows that Lady M is not as cool and collected as she first appears. To the contrary--her guilt is affecting her deeply, making it impossible for her to sleep soundly or to stop thinking about the murders. She has nightmares and sleepwalks around the castle, trying to wash King Duncan's blood off her hands and possibly having visions of Hell while she does it.

This speech is often contrasted to an earlier exchange, when Macbeth says that he can't wash the blood off of his hands even with all the water in the ocean. In that scene, Lady Macbeth is being the practical half in their marriage, and she says  “A little water clears us of this deed” (II.2.64). While she is literally correct--of course you can wash blood off with regular soap and water--it turned out that Macbeth was right in a moral or metaphorical sense.  It is impossible for them to fully clean themselves from the murders they committed to put Macbeth on the throne.

Some words and phrases you might look up or try to modernize are 'fie', 'afeard', 'call to accompt'

This is a good passage for you to choose because it's fairly short, but it's a great example of some of the major themes of the play, including guilt, blood, trying to clean oneself of a crime (literally and metaphorically), and the consequences of terrible actions.

Sources:
rugby4life's profile pic

rugby4life | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

The annotations are for a class. The passage must be analyzed and have lots of meaning in it.

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