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Want opinions/analysis on an extract from Macbeth
Posted by: muse (59.93.205.---)
Date: July 21, 2008 08:32AM

I'm interested in understanding how Lady Macbeth manages to convince Macbeth to murder the king.

Here's the extract:
"We will proceed no further in this business:
He [the king] hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.


Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,'
Like the poor cat i' the adage?


Prithee, peace:
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.


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.
(Act I, Scene 7; Shakespeare's Macbeth)

Here's my paraphrase of the extract:
"Macbeth: I can't murder the king because I fear losing my newly-gained honour and reputation.

Lady Macbeth: Your fear is baseless, as proved by the fearless actions of your earlier self. Moreover, don't be a wimp.

Macbeth: It is unmanly to murder the king. I am a man.

Lady Macbeth: You were a man earlier when you proposed your plan. Hence, murdering the king IS manly. I perceive that you are withdrawing from the plan rather because you are scared of murdering Duncan, because you owe loyalty to him. But you simply must uphold your promise to murder Duncan, because it is manly to uphold promises!"

So is that the logic of the text?

Re: Want opinions/analysis on an extract from Macbeth
Posted by: IanAKB (210.84.50.---)
Date: July 23, 2008 03:10AM

Where is everybody?

You've got the gist of these passages pretty well, Muse, though the subtlety of Lady M's reasoning probably needs more words to express.

Here's a wordier paraphrase:

We wonít go ahead with this plan [of murdering Duncan]. He has bestowed honours on me lately, and I have spent a lot of money to make people think well of me. Itís better to enjoy the gains from all that than throw them away so soon.

Lady Macbeth
So were you drunk when you were uninhibitedly more ambitious? Has your ambition got a bad hangover? From now on, I can only assume that that also applies to your love for me. Are you frightened to do what it takes to get what you really want? Those recent Ďgainsí you apparently rate so highly, how can you be content to enjoy them if you know you are really a coward? Like the proverbial miserable cat who wanted to eat fish but didnít dare get its feet wet.

Stop talking like that. I do whatever is right and proper for a man to do. Going beyond the pale would be unmanly.

Lady Macbeth
So, were you an animal instead of a man when you first told me of your plan? No, you were then a brave man. Putting your plan into action will just make you more so. You lacked the right time and place then. Your aim was to bring that about. But now that a perfect opportunity has fallen into your lap, you have apparently been unmanned by it. If I had sworn an oath in the way you did, to do something, even if it meant killing someone I loved, like dashing out the brains of a beloved infant I was breast-feeding, I would go ahead and do it!


Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 07/24/2008 08:52AM by IanAKB.

Re: Want opinions/analysis on an extract from Macbeth
Posted by: muse (59.93.247.---)
Date: July 25, 2008 07:34AM

Thanks Ian; your paraphrase besides illuminating certain nuances of the text to me, also explained the cat simile!

Re: Want opinions/analysis on an extract from Macbeth
Posted by: jessie319 (222.79.135.---)
Date: April 15, 2011 04:49AM

Well, I think your analysis is really great, I would consider it as my best source of reference....
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