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Macbeth Appearance /Reality Quotes leaving cert

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Witches: “Fair is foul, and fair is foul,” (I, I, 10)
Comment: This introduces the idea of deceptiveness of appearances throughout the whole play.

King Duncan: “What [the Thane of Cawdor] hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.” (I, II, 79) Comment: King Duncan calls Macbeth noble even though later he will become Duncan’s murderer.

Macbeth: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” (I, III, 38) Comment: Macbeth speaks of the weather being foul and of winning the battles being fair.

Macbeth: “And nothing is but what is not.” (I, III, 155) Comment: Macbeth has been thinking about murdering the king and the picture of himself as the murderer is so vivid that he is not capable of seeing anything around him.

Macbeth: “The service and the loyalty in doing it pays itself.” (I, IV, 25-26) Comment: Macbeth says that serving King Duncan is its own reward, but he has already begun thinking about murdering the king.

Lady Macbeth: “Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under’t.” (I, V, 76-78) Comment: Lady Macbeth is instructing Macbeth to look like he is innocent but underneath to be plotting to kill King Duncan.

Lady Macbeth: “All our service, in every point twice done and then done double, were poor and single business to contend against those honors deep and broad, wherewith Your Majesty loads our house.” (I, VI, 18-22) Comment: Lady Macbeth tells King Duncan that doing all the past service for him twice does not compare with the honor the he brings them with his visit, while in the meantime, in her thought, she plans to murder him.

King Duncan: “And [Macbeth’s] great love (sharp as his spur) hath helped him to his home before us.” (I, VI, 28-30) Comment: The king thinks that Macbeth’s love for his king and wife helped him speed home and arrive there before the king, but the real reason he got there so quickly was to talk to his wife about murdering King Duncan.

Macbeth: “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” (I, VII, 95-96) Comment: Macbeth’s appearance must hide that he will kill King Duncan.

Act II

Macbeth: “Being unprepared, / Our will became the servant to defect, / Which else should free have wrought.” (II, I, 21-23) Comment: Macbeth, with apparent modesty, claims to have wanted to serve the king to his fullest. He says that a lack of time did not allow him or lady Macbeth serve the King to their desire. This is ironic Because Macbeth and Lady Macbeth did have time to thoroughly think and prepare a plan to kill Duncan.

Macbeth: “… and withered murder, / Alarumed by his sentinel, the wolf, / Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace, / With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his / design” (I, I, 64-68) Comment: In his imagination, Macbeth sees Murder as a withered man who is called to action by his sentinel, the wolf. In reference to ACT 1 sc. 7 lines 5 one would think of Macbeth as the sentinel who would keep an eye out for danger, “should against his murderer shut the door,” and call out a warning or hinder Duncan from any danger. However, here murderer’s sentinel or Macbeth bears “the knife” himself keeping an eye out for the opportunity to kill Duncan like the murderous rapist Tarquin; almost like a ghost.

Lady Macbeth:

“Go carry them and smear the sleepy grooms with blood” (II, II, 63-64) “If he do bleed, / I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal, / For it must seem their guilt.” (II, II, 71-73) Comment: Lady Macbeth wants Duncan’s death to appear to have been occasioned by the guards. She tells Macbeth that she will stain the faces of the guards with Duncan’s blood to make them seem guilty because Macbeth will not do it.


“Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand?” (II, I, 44-45) “I have thee not and yet I see thee still / Art thou not fatal vision, sensible / To feelings as to sight?” (II, I, 47-49) “A dagger of the mind, a false creation” (II, I, 50)

“I see thee yet, in form as palpable / As this which now I draw.” (II, I, 52-53) “Mine eyes are made the fools o’the’other senses” (II, I, 56) “I see thee still, / And, on thy blade on dudgeon, gouts of blood, / Which was not so before.” (II, I, 57-59) Comment: This parts of the soliloquy show how Macbeth is so obsessed by thoughts of the murder that he starts to hallucinate. He reaches for his imaginary dagger but of course he can’t grasp it; it is a “false creation.” Like that he realizes that he is seeing the dagger that he plans to use to kill Duncan. This is the dagger that leads him toward King Duncan’s door and the dagger upon which appear thick drops of blood. The drops of blood foreshadow Duncan’s death.

Macbeth: “Who could refrain / That had a heart of love, and in that heart / Courage to make’s love known?” (II, III, 135-137) Comment: Macbeth wants to make it seem as if he was very loyal to Duncan when Macduff asks him why he killed the guards. He wants to depict himself as a man of love and courage so that they will not suspect that he killed Duncan.

2) “There’s daggers in men’s smiles.” – Act 2, Scene 3

Prince Donalbain said this to his brother Malcolm in the aftermath of their father’s murder. It means they can’t trust anybody.


4) “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.” – Act 2, Scene 2

This line was spoken by Macbeth in the aftermath of murdering Duncan. His wife’s response illustrates how her personality contrasted with his at that time:

“A little water clears us of this deed.” – Act 2, Scene 2

However, later in the play, their personalities essentially switched places between each other. This quote from Lady Macbeth demonstrates the shift and hearkens back to the above quote spoken by Macbeth:

“All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” – Act 5, Scene 1

How do these quoutes compare to the world today? It’s simple – you can never really take anything at face value. Things change, and sometimes they aren’t what they’re made out to be. First impressions turn out wrong, people lie, and opinions differ over time. Things are usually not as they seem.

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