Analysis of Macbeth: Act 1 Scene 7Get Your
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De Schotse Koning “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter,”( I. 3. 53). Macbeth, infamously known as ‘that Scottish play’, was written by Shakespeare in 1606. It was not only a contemporary adaptation of the Prince, by Machiavelli, but the play also served to strengthen James I claim to the throne. In Macbeth, our hero of the same name has an unquenchable thirst for power that leads him to his downfall. The audience is privy to Macbeth’s mental evolution as they witness his transition into a tyrant.
The seventh scene of the first act is the first example of active rhetoric, on behalf of Lady Macbeth, to sway Macbeth towards killing his cousin, Duncan. In this scene Macbeth and Lady Macbeth make use of rhetorical devices as they attempt to persuade one another towards their constitution. Macbeth uses an uncertain tone during his discussion with his conscious and syllogism when solidifying his rationale while Lady Macbeth counters with invective language to emasculate Macbeth and sarcasm to ruin his self-esteem. Macbeth is caught in a conundrum.
At this moment he has been prophesized to be King by witches, and tasked by his ambitious wife to commit murder against his loyal and virtuous cousin Duncan, and assume the throne. Macbeth begins his argument internally as evidenced not only by his aside but by the tone he uses. Macbeth’s sentiment towards the assassination plot is conflicted due to his unwillingness to wholly commit to the murder. “… but this blow might be the end-all and the be-all here, but here, upon this bank and shoal of time, we’d jump the life to come,” (I. . 4-7). Macbeth repeatedly uses the word “but” as he argues with himself on whether or not he should commit the murder. This uncertainty plagues his judgment and thus weakens his constitution to the point where he forces himself to design a permeable wall of decision. The aforementioned wall is created by Macbeth in the form of syllogism. The construction of this argument is convoluted which mirrors his state of mind and reveals the unstableness of the argument in Macbeth’s mind. He’s here in double trust, First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed; then, as his host, who should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself,” (I. 7. 12-16). In this statement Macbeth affirms his relationship to Duncan and explains his trepidation for killing him citing his family ties and his allegiance to the King and his country. He proceeds to characterize how heinous the act would be since Duncan is a guest at his home and it is his duty to protect not harm his guests.
Macbeth does this to reduce the moral conflict with himself and to provide a basis for his attempt to halt the assassination. Culminating into Macbeth’s argument, ‘I am family, a subject, and a host. Family does not kill family, subjects do not kill kings, and hosts do not kill guests. Therefore I must not kill Duncan,’ and momentarily strengthening his position not to carry out the plot. However, Lady Macbeth, the foil to Macbeth’s moral conscious, has the intent of persuading her husband to kill Duncan despite his objections.
Lady Macbeth attempts to lure Macbeth to do her bidding because she is discontent with her role in society, even as a noblewoman, and sees this as an opportunity to take control of her life but also as a solution to her discomfort. Therefore Lady Macbeth unleashes on Macbeth a speech of unrivaled invective language which thoroughly emasculates Macbeth. “Wouldst thou have that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life and live a coward in thine own esteem, … like the poor cat I’ the’ adage? ,” (I. 7. 45-49).
Lady Macbeth in this excerpt directly challenges Macbeth’s constitution demanding that he honor his word or be forever regarded as a coward, she adds in the cat allusion to further humiliate him as cat can be an euphemism for possessing female anatomy. Macbeth is a revered and powerful warrior, but having his pride diminished by his wife to that extent fills him with anger which drives his decision to overrule his previously established constitution. “Prithee, peace. I dare do all that may become a man,”(I. 7. 50-51).
Lady Macbeth having completely ravaged Macbeth’s self-esteem and constitution further engages her husband to prevent his morals from intervening again. Lady Macbeth’s use of sarcasm is cruel when used upon an already weakened Macbeth yet is necessary to cement her prerogative in Macbeth who has shown a propensity for flip-flopping. “You would be so much more the man. Not 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. 7. 57-62).
Lady Macbeth taunts her husband with his former resolve and sudden unwillingness to execute the deed. She acknowledges how eager he was at the wrong time and how feeble he is under perfect conditions for such an act. With Macbeth’s inner conflict countered and complete absence of self-esteem and fortitude he accepts her vitriol without rebuttal. This failure and appeasement showcases Lady Macbeth’s victory in convincing Macbeth to murder Duncan. Macbeth, in this scene, attempted to recant his earlier inclinations to murder Duncan by designing fortifications for his arguments mainly with syllogism.
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Macbeth struggled with his “good” side versus his “bad” side and the result was a fragile foundation for his stance on the matter. Lady Macbeth through invective language and sarcasm wove together a punishing argument that easily penetrated Macbeth’s morality and swayed his opinion. The scene fades with Macbeth suddenly eager to murder his cousin fueled by the maleficent rhetorical language of Lady Macbeth. Works Cited 1) Shakespeare, William. “Act I, Scene 7. ” Macbeth: FOLGER Shakespeare Library. New York: Washington Square, 1992. 39-45. Print.
Author: Michelle Kivett
Analysis of Macbeth: Act 1 Scene 7
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I'm currently a high school student, and I'm needing some help at writing essays. At the moment we're studying Macbeth in Literature, but I thought, if someone wouldn't mind, they could read over my essay and give me a few tips or corrections? It would be much appreciated! I'm not very good at writing essays, and, although I normally do quite well in English, essays is one area in which I could improve in. I know my introduction is very weak, but I'm not sure how to write a strong introduction. I also think I need a longer or better conclusion, as mine sort of trails off. But I'm not really sure how to fix these things. As I said, any advice or criticism would be appreciated. Thank you! Here is my essay:
How does Lady Macbeth convince Macbeth to kill Duncan? (Act 1, Scene 7)
Macbeth is a Shakespearean tragedy which follows the protagonist Macbeth as he plots to kill the king of Scotland and to become king himself, after hearing a prophecy from three witches. It follows Macbeth's journey of betrayal, guilt, and murder, until his final downfall. This scene details Macbeth's first soliloquy, in which he decides not to follow through with their plan of regicide, and the remainder of the scene consists of his wife, Lady Macbeth, arguing with him to change his mind. Lady Macbeth uses emotive language in contrast to he husband's logically thought out reasoning, and appeals to his sense of honour in his own masculinity by insulting it.
Before Lady Macbeth enters the scene, Macbeth decides against the plan of regicide during his soliloquy. His reasons for deciding against committing the act include reasons spurred by guilt, such as that Duncan is not only a great king, of whom Macbeth is supposedly a loyal subject, but a guest in Macbeths house, and Macbeths cousin, therefore it would be wrong to kill him. He also considers the justice of the act, as Duncan is a good man and loved by the people. Not only does Duncan do a good job leading the country, but his people would be outraged, weeping for Duncans death and not resting until the murderer was found. This brings Macbeth to his next reason against killing Duncan; fear for himself. Macbeth worries that he will be found out, reasoning that, even if he escapes punishment on earth, he may risk the afterlife, or punishment from the gods. Macbeth also worries about his own safety when he is king, fearing that he may meet the same fate as Duncan. Also, as he is already looked upon favourably by the lords of Scotland for his valour and courage, he is unwilling to risk his good name. He concludes his soliloquy, having reached his decision, saying I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition. All of Macbeths arguments are clearly thought out and logical.
Lady Macbeth manages to sway Macbeth in his decision by using emotive arguments to counter his logic. Her passionate outbursts defeat Macbeth, who seems to be somewhat frightened of his wife, for his solid arguments seem to disintegrate as Lady Macbeth disputes. Her subtle transitions from outrage and aggression to cajoling him and understating the act create the perfect persuasion, and the strong use of emotive language and personification renders Macbeth incapable of reasoning logically. Was the hope drunk and wakes it now, to look so green and pale at what it did so freely? Lady Macbeth demands, showcasing her talent for creating images which Macbeth, and the audience along with him, can not help but see substance beneath. In this statement, Lady Macbeth questions if Macbeth regarded his decision to kill the king as a drunken mistake, while also referring to the hope which she and her husband harboured of becoming rulers. Using this strength of argument, she is able to override her husbands earlier decision and convince him to kill Duncan. This is a way in which she shows her authority over Macbeth.
The contrast of gender roles in Macbeth is highlighted when Lady Macbeth questions her husbands masculinity. Her scornful accusation that Macbeth is not a man displays the importance of masculine traits to males in this time. Lady Macbeth tries to diminish Macbeths power by undermining his authority as a man. She mocks and insults his lack of courage, challenging him; when you durst do it, then you were a man. By this statement, Lady Macbeth is implying that until he kills Duncan, Macbeth forfeits the rights of being a man, as she feels a coward is in no way a man. In contrast to Macbeths lack of courage, Lady Macbeth displays some masculine traits during this scene. She is forceful and aggressive, and takes control over the situation. She shows no sign of mercy or regret for what she is about to take part in, and it is clear that she hold the authority. This would have been threatening to Macbeth, as the dominant role should have been his, as the husband. This could have contributed to Macbeths change of heart; him wanting to prove that he was capable.
Lady Macbeth showcased many techniques of convincing Macbeth to commit regicide during this scene. Her use of emotive language, personification, imagery, mockery, and insults to Macbeth's masculinity all contributed in changing his mind, and therefore deciding the outcome of the play.