Whats the significance of this quote to the play Macbeth?O proper stuff!This is the very painting of your fear:This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and...

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The significance of what Lady Macbeth says here lies in the fact that her admonishment becomes tragically ironic later in the play. In this scene, she is angry at her husband showing fear for, what she believes, is a figment of his imagination. She scolds him for being afraid of nothing. Macbeth's actions, though, are an expression of his guilt for having murdered his closest friend, Banquo. He imagines seeing the bloodstained ghost of his erstwhile friend occupying his seat at the banquet table and reacts in a most uncharacteristic manner by showing fear and being horrified.   

In Act V, scene l, however, it is Lady Macbeth who succumbs to the visions that she sees. She is overwhelmed by guilt and remorse and imagines seeing blood on her hands. She consistently rubs them, trying to remove what she imagines, are bloodstains left on her hands from Duncan's murder.

Out, damned 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 power to
account?--Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.

She sleepwalks and always carries a candle with her. She is so frightened and overwhelmed by these visions that she loses all hope and all sanity, so much so, that she eventually commits suicide.

amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The murderers have just returned and told Macbeth that Banquo is dead but Fleance has escaped. As he was after killing Duncan, Macbeth becomes stricken with guilt. But this time his fear and guilt are increasing and playing on his mind. When Lady Macbeth says, “This is the very painting of your fear,” she means that Banquo’s ghost is a hallucination. Macbeth’s guilt is causing him to see things. The ghost/hallucination is being “painted” by Macbeth’s fear. She is trying to get him to snap out of it.

She tries to tell him that all he is looking at is a stool, but Macbeth sees Banquo sitting on that stool. This entire quote is significant because it shows how Macbeth’s fear and guilt have consumed him. Lady Macbeth seems to have her wits about her, but she falls victim to fear and guilt later in the play.