Act 1, Scene 5 Metaphor Analysis

Shakespeare’s use of metaphors in Lady Macbeth’s speech deliver her evil presence and strong nature effectively. He illustrates great meaning that appear throughout his character’s dialogue as well as beneath the surface. An example of a quote/metaphor from Lady Macbeth is in Act 1, Scene 5, just after she reads the letter from her husband telling her of the Witches prediction. 

 “Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here;

And fill me from the crown to the toe topful

Of direst cruelty! 

In this scene, Lady Macbeth calls on evil spirits to assist her. A specific quote from her speech that stands out is “unsex me here”. By this, she means she would willingly be stripped of her feminine qualities to gather the strength (masculinity) to kill King Duncan.

A metaphor Lady Macbeth uses is, “And fill me from the crown to the topful Of direst cruelty!”  She describes “direst cruelty” almost as like it’s a liquid to be poured into her from top to bottom. This evidently shows her ambitious and powerful nature.

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  1. You have identified and explained some key metaphors in Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy well. The next step is to explore why Shakespeare chose those particular metaphors. Why, for example, would Shakespeare use fluid as an image for Lady Macbeth as opposed so something like a dagger? Would you perhaps say that poisoning someone is not as courageous (even honest?) as stabbing them?


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