What are specific examples (quotes) of poetic justice, destiny versus free will, and gender roles and nature "out of order" in Macbeth?I really want to write a great paper and any help given to me...

What are specific examples (quotes) of poetic justice, destiny versus free will, and gender roles and nature "out of order" in Macbeth?

I really want to write a great paper and any help given to me would be greatly appreciated.

Expert Answers
Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poetic justice is portrayed in the death of Macbeth himself. He who had caused the death of so many to gain the throne loses his life because he has gained that throne. In Act V Scene 8 Lines 32-40: "I will not yield/ To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet / And to be baited with the rabble's curse. / Though Birnham Wood be come to Dunsinane / And though opposed, being of no woman born, / Yet I will try the last. Before the body / I throw my warlkike shield. Lay on, Macduff, / And damned be him that first cries 'Hold! Enough!'"

Macbeth first acted on the words of the witches, but did not give their second prophecy enough heed, and thus did not take the necessary steps that could have saved his throne, as he took them to procure it. What got him the throne caused himto lose the throne, and his life. His pride, as well as his insight, failed him.

As for destiny vs. free will, the witches' prophecy is the most notable example. (Act 1 Scene 3 Lines 51-53). It is Macbeth's destiny to be king, but there is not mention as to how, through his free will, he is to bring this about. Destiny implies that what will happen will happen, regardless of one's actions. Free will, however, necessitates action. While Macbeth accepts his destiny, it is his choice of how to exert his free will that leads to his downfall.

Macbeth is accused of weakness (having too much "the milk of human kindness) that will ruin their chances of successfully eliminating Duncan. Though she wishes the deed done, she does not suggest that she perform it rather than her husband. This is a reference to the gender roles of the time, in which the wife is submissive to the leadership of her husband. Lady Macbeth strains at this, crying out "unsex me here" in Act i Scene 5 Line 48. It's not that she wishes to be a man, but that the matter of gender should not be an issue, which it in fact is.

As far as "nature out of order,' an example would be the environmental conditions that reflect the murder of Duncan on the night of his death (Act II Scene 3 Lines 61-69). Rather than man responding to nature and its conditions, the order is reversed, when the world trembles at the death of an innocent man (parallel accounts on earthquakes and darkness at the crucifixion of Christ). The personification of nature provides a witness to Macbeth's evil.

harry7459 | Student

Quote 1, Lady Macbeth "

Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be

What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature;

It is too full o' the milk of human kindness

To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;

Art not without ambition, but without

The illness should attend it"


This quote shows of Lady Macbeth questioning the manly and brave qualities of MacBeth by telling him that she is more brave and manly than him, which is an insult to his sexuality.


Quote 2,

 Lady Macbeth "Come, you spirits

That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,

And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full

Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood,"


This Quote is related to gender because Lady Macbeth wishes to "Unsex" herself. "Unsex" in this context, refers to Lady Macbeth ridding herself of feminie qualities such as being able to carry and nurture a child and to change her breast "milk" for poison, and become more of a emotionless cruel person. Again, she says this to insult him and make him more manly.


Quote 3, Banquo  "You should be women,

And yet your beards forbid me to interpret

That you are so,"


Banquo is confused as to the gender of the witches and says that the witches are too masculine to be women. In Banquo's time, the ideal women was quiet, beautiful and submissive, all of which the witches were not.


Quote 4 Lady MacBeth "

LADY MACBETH “I have given suck and know How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me-  I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums. And dash'd the brains out had I so sworn as you Have done to this.”

Lady Macbeth browbeats his husband by creating cruel and violent imagery to make Macbeth more cruel.

Quote 5 Quote 5 MacDuff "He has no children. All my pretty ones?

Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?

What, all my pretty chickens and their dam

At one fell swoop?


Dispute it like a man.


I shall do so,

But I must also feel it as a man.

I cannot but remember such things were

That were most precious to me."


After MacDuff finds out that his family has been slaughtered, Malcolm says that he should fight and stand up for himself like a man should, or in other words he insists him to kill Macbeth.