Practise paragraph for Macbeth exam.

How does Shakespeare use language to reinforce his ideas in Macbeth? (How does Shakespeare make you understand his ideas through what Macbeth says and does.)

Idea : Brevity of life.

Metaphor! Also use of meter, and repetition, and alliteration. Like “Out, out, brief candle.”

The paragraph should probably relate to the question, and show insight to what it means. Also having evidence for what you say.

Shakespeare, in his tragedy Macbeth, is preoccupied with the relationship between humanity and the forces in life beyond our control. Macbeth, who has just learned of his wife’s untimely death considers his life to be ” like a walking shadow ” . It is his use of metaphor, and the interplay between symbols of light and dark, that Shakespeare communicates this idea of the nature of death. In the metaphor “A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and is then heard no more”, Shakespeare is communicating that in life we follow the script provided to us and that life will only last so long before it ends.


And now here is a passage from “Macbeth”.

What beast was’t, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.

This passage is said by Lady Macbeth. What I shall write for the following paragraph shall be Ambition and Loyalty.

In the stage play “Macbeth”, which was written by Shakespeare, there is a wife who makes her husband do as he said he would, for her own goals. We can see this as Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth how she would “dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this” when describing just how committed to a promise she can be, and to what lengths Macbeth should go to achieve her goals. From this we see how Shakespeare can use words to bring an idea of imagery to mind, in this case, of a baby’s head being smashed open. From saying all this and  “Nor time nor place Did then adhere, and yet you would make both” allows us to understand Lady Macbeth’s own ambition to get all that she can in life, even if it is probably impossible. And from her own ambition, she also expects loyalty from Macbeth, no matter how horrible it is. Because of these words Shakespeare has managed to describe just how wrong ambition can be in the hands of someone who uses it for personal gain, and will do anything to get what they want. Shakespeare also describes in this moment how loyalty is demanded by the ones who want it all, and that there should be a limit to how loyal to a promise you are or you could become what most people view as evil. And if you do become this definition of evil, then what ever the promise you were completing, it simply won’t be worth it anymore.

One Comment

  1. This looks like an interesting line of inquiry. I’d encourage you also to look to the beginning of the play when Macbeth was almost presented, at least externally, as being invincible. Then you can look at how the Witches start to give him the belief that he is unassailable – particularly when Hecate gets involved as he explicitly says he wishes to give Macbeth the belief that he is invincible in order to prevent him having any access to regret (You’ll definitely want to find that quote).

    I haven’t seen a completed paragraph yet, so I’ll direct you to look carefully at the sample paragraph on the class website, as it demonstrates how you can use a clear formula of Statement, Example, Explanation to ensure you keep a clear logical sequence to your writing. – and to make sure you also use detailed reference to quotations in your ultimate answer.

    Also, as we’ve mentioned, the paragraph written by Otto together with support from the whole class is a good example of how to keep the logic of your argument clear while referring to a range of items of evidence and analysis.

    Good thinking so far.



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