Which literary devices used in Macbeth? Can i get it with example and justification??  i need it for my presentation...

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. A motif is an object or idea that continually reappears throughout the work, which has symbolic significance and contributes to the development of a theme. In the first scene of the play, the Three Witches say, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (Shakespeare, 1.1.12). This motif essentially means that appearances can be deceiving, and it is repeated throughout the play.

2. Personification is when an idea, animal, or animate object is given human attributes. In Act One, Scene 4, Lady Macbeth utilizes personification by saying,

"Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires" (Shakespeare, 1.4.52-53).

Light is given the human attribute of sight in this example of personification.

3. Hyperbole is an exaggeration, which is used to add emphasis to a given topic. In Act Two, Scene 2, Macbeth utilizes a hyperbole after murdering King Duncan by saying,

"Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red" (Shakespeare, 2.2.60-64).

Macbeth is exaggerating the extent of blood on his hands by saying that all of the oceans in the world could not clean his hands.

4. A simile is a direct comparison between two different things using the words "like" or "as." In Act Two, Scene 2, Lady Macbeth uses a simile to compare Duncan's dead chamberlains to harmless pictures. Lady Macbeth says, "The sleeping and the dead Are but as pictures" (Shakespeare, 2.2.53-54).

5. A metaphor makes a hidden or indirect comparison between two seemingly unrelated things, which share some common characteristics. In Act Five, Scene 5, Macbeth is informed about his wife's death and uses a metaphor to describe his negative view of life by saying,

"Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more" (Shakespeare, 5.5.24-26).

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth is filled with imagery: visually descriptive figurative language.  There are many types:

Heaven vs. Hell: "I go, and it is done; the bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven or to hell."

Sound: (as above); "...full of sound and fury signifying nothing..."

Bestial / animal: (Duncan's horses eating each other); ("the raven himself is hoarse...")

Bodily fluids (namely blood): "Can Neptune's great ocean wash the blood from these hands?"

Weather: "So foul and fair a day I have not seen"

Nature (unnatural): "I have drugg'd their possets, That death and nature do contend about them, Whether they live or die."

Equivocations (riddles, paradoxes): "Foul is fair and fair is foul."

Light vs. dark (fire): “The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires”

Time (past vs. present): "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day."

Appearance vs. reality: "Look like the flower but be the serpent under't..."

Sickness / disease: (Lady M's sleepwalking); "Cure her of that..."

Gender (female vs. male): "Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between / The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts, / And take my milk for gall"

Clothing (crown, robes): "Why do you dress me is borrowed robes...?"