Shakespeare's Macbeth - Macbeth as Oxymoron

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MacBeth: Oxymoron

Act 1 Scene 1 Page 274 Line 12-13: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair: / Hover

through the fog and filthy air."


This quote is interesting to me because it is an oxymoron. Its impossible how

fair can be foul when fair is equal or mild and foul is gross and rotten. Its

significance is that the witches delight in the confusion of good and bad,

beauty and ugliness.


Act 1 Scene 2 Page 279 Line 40: "So foul and fair a day I have not seen"


This quote simply means that it's one of those days when fog is followed by

sunshine, then a thunderstorm, some hail, and more sunshine. In other words

nature is acting somewhat strange.


Act 1 Scene 3 Page 282 Line 174-175: "My dull brain was wrought / With things



Macbeth makes the lying excuse that he was thinking about something so

unimportant that he has already forgotten what it was. However, those things

are far from forgotten.


Act 1 Scene 4 Page 284 Line 13-47: "There's no art / To find the mind's

construction in the face"


I chose this quote because I thought it was pretty interesting how Duncan

tells us not that you can't tell a book by its cover. From him saying this I

compare it to Macbeth. Macbeth may look all innocent on the outside, but in

the inside who knows what he has going on in his mind.


Act 1 Scene 5 Page 286 Line 18-20: "Thou wouldst be great; / Art not without

ambition, but without / The illness should attend it"


Lady Macbeth is like the witches, she also believes that foul is fair.

Ambition "should" be accompanied by "illness." Yet she does not believe that

Macbeth is really good.


Act 2 Scene 1 Page 295 Line 5-6:"There's husbandry in heaven; / Their candles

are all out"

 Banquo means that heaven has gone to bed, and has put out its "candles" (the

stars) for the night. Its significance is that the night stars will never be

as bright again because nature will now be in a state of turmoil and


Act 2 Scene 1 Page 296 Line 41-42: "Is this a dagger which I see before me, /

The handle toward my hand? 


At this point in time Macbeth thinks he sees a dagger floating in the air and

its pointing to Duncan's room. In other words Macbeth is hallucinating.


Act 2 Scene 1 Page 297 Line 69-70: "Whiles I threat, he lives: / Words to the

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Shakespeare's Macbeth - Macbeth as Oxymoron." 30 Mar 2017

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heat of deeds too cold breath gives."


While he's saying all these threatening things, King Duncan still lives, and

his words haven't yet inspired him to actually do the deed. It's interesting

to me how talk can delay ones actions.


Act 2 Scene 2 Page 300 Line 85-86: "My hands are of your colour; but I shame /

To wear a heart so white."


She means that her hands are red too, but that she would be ashamed to have a

heart as white as Macbeth's. It goes to show you how cold hearted Lady Macbeth



Act 2 Scene 4 Page 309 Line 53-54: "God's benison go with you, and with those/

That would make good of bad, and friends of foes!"


The old man is giving a blessing to all those who would restore the goodness

and bring peace to the troubled land. The old man knows that Scotland is going

to end up in one big mess.


Act 3 Scene 1 Page 312 Line 3-4: "Thou play'dst most foully for't. Yet it was

said it should not stand in thy posterity."


Banquo believes that the witches prophecies are right because it was predicted

that the kingship would not remain in Macbeth's Family.


Act 3 Scene 1 Page 314 Line 64-68:  "They hailed him father to a line of

kings. /Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown/And put a barren scepter in

my gripe, /Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand, /No son of mine



Macbeth has came to conclusion if he wants to keep his crown he is going to

have to kill Banquo and Fleance. He is trying to work against prophecy,

something he never learns not to do.


Act 3 Scene 2 Page 319 Line 51: "Be innocent of the knowledge"


Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth to put on a mask. This truly is a reversal of

roles. Slowly Macbeth is taking the role of Lady Macbeth.



Act 3 Scene 3 Page 320 Line 27: "Thou mayst revenge"


In this scene Banquo is killed and he tells Fleance that he may live to kill

the person that killed him.


Act 3 Scene 4 Page 326 Line 176: "You lack the season of all nature, sleep"


Macbeth really needs peace, but he can't relax because he feels that his power

is threatened.


Act 4 Scene 1 Page 337 Line 169-170: "^Åthe very firstlings of my heart shall

be the firstlings of my hand."


Macbeth will now act immediately now on his impulses and will do whatever it

takes to keep his crown. He decides that he will surprise the family of

Macduff and destroy his family, thus removing the threat that Macduff



Act 4 Scene 2 Page 338 Line 5-6: "When our actions do not, our fears do make

us traitors."


Lady Macduff is worried about what other people might say about her husband

because he fled the country. She's scared that their reputation will be



Act 4 Scene 2 Page 340 Line 97: "Young fry of treachery"


The murderer calls Macduff a traitor, and the son calls him a liar. The

murderer calls him a stabs him. It shows how evil the murders can be. They

will kill anything for the money they get. You can tell how heartless they are


Act 4 Scene 3 Page 342 Line 19-20: "To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb.

T" appease an angry god"


Macduff may betray the weak Malcolm, offering him as a sacrifice.


Act 4 Scene 3 Page 346 Line 184-185: "Good God betimes remove. The means that

make us strangers!"


This is a plea to God from Malcolm. He wants God to remove the devil that sits

at the head of Scotland.


Act 5 Scene 1 Page 352 Line 37-39: "Yet who would have thought/the old man to

have so much blood in him?"


Lady Macbeth didn't know that Duncan's death would bother her so much. She

feels that her hands are now permanently tainted with her evil acts. This

shows an even further reversal of the roles between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth.


Act 5 Scene 2 Page 354 Line 3-5: "^Åfor their dear causes would to the bleeding

and the grim alarm excite the mortified man."


Any man would respond to their call for help, while they take on Macbeth.


Act 5 Scene 4 Page 358 Lines 1-2: "Cousins, I hope the days are near at

hand/That chambers will be safe"


  The nobles won't have to worry about being killed in their beds like Duncan

was. His speech is basically a pep rally to motivate the nobles and soldiers.


Act 5 Scene 7 Page 362 Line1: "They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly^Å"


He probably would want things to go back to how they were before the murder.

Back then, everyone and everything didn't disturb him.


Act 5 Scene 7 Page 362 Lines 22-23: "If thou be'st slain and with no stroke of

mine, /My wife and children's ghosts will haunt me still."


Macduff can't rest until he gets revenge on the killer of his family,

something Malcolm and Fleance didn't say or couldn't do.


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