Where in Act II of Macbeth is personification used?

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durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Figurative language is rich and full in Macbeth. The use of simile, metaphor and other devices, inclusing personification, add deep dimensions to the plot and the drama is intensified.

Personification is indicated when human qualities are attributed to inanimate objects, animals or even an idea. Apostrophe- where objects are actually addressed directly- and which is widely used in Macbeth, is a form of personification and often referred to as personification:

"Is this a dagger ...? Come, let me clutch thee! I have thee not, and yet I see thee still." (Apostrophe)

In Act II, i Banquo and Fleance cannot sleep. Banquo refers to the moon as "she"  obvioulsy using personification. He then goes on to mention the "husbandry in heaven" as apparently, ""heaven" is economizing - in other words, it's a dark night; somewhat foreshadowing what is to follow.

After murdering Duncan, Macbeth, in Act II.ii. 37, personifies sleep in a famous quote before he is fully committed to his murderous activities and is haunted by his actions:

"Macbeth does murder sleep" and  "that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care."

Macbeth is keen to set up Duncan's own sons for his murder and in Act II, iii.120, Donalbaine realizes that he may appear guilty:

"Where our fate, hidden in an auger hole, / May rush and seize us."

Personification then intensifies the plot in Act II.

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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There are a number of examples of personification in Act II of Macbeth. First of all, Banquo personifies heaven as a person who does not want to share its light with the people on Earth:

There’s husbandry in heaven;

Their candles are all out.

Next, there are a couple of examples of personification in Macbeth's dagger soliloquy. Macbeth personifies the dagger, for instance, as a living body which beckons him to go in a certain direction:

Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going.

In addition, Macbeth personifies the ground beneath him when he asks it to not listen to the sounds of his footsteps as he goes to King Duncan's chamber:

Thou sure and firm-set earth,

Hear not my steps.

In the next scene, Macbeth claims to have heard a voice which identifies himself as the person who has "murdered" sleep.

Finally, there is an another example of personification when King Duncan's body is discovered the next morning. Lady Macbeth personifies the trumpet as something capable of speaking to the residents of the house and urging them to get up and out of bed ("hideous trumpet calls to parley").

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