Macbeth Reading Notes-ACT IV

Meet Malcolm:

As always writing notes for this ACT I go multiple ways. I could do a summary, character analysis, but I decided to pick two three significant quotes to work through.

Malcolm (4, 3, 80): “Were I king,
I should cut off the nobles for their lands,
Desire his jewels and this other’s house:
And my more-having would be as a sauce
To make me hunger more; that I should forge
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
Destroying them for wealth.

I here abjure
The taints and blames I laid upon myself,
For strangers to my nature.

My first false speaking
Was this upon myself: what I am truly,
Is thine and my poor country’s to command.”


Macbeth (4,1, 150): “Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits.

The flighty purpose never is o’ertook
Unless the deed go with it. From this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise,
Seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool.
This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool.
But no more sights!—Where are these gentlemen?
Come, bring me where they are.”

Macbeth Quotes Analysis

1. Banquo says: Thou hast it now—King, Cawdor, Glamis, all/ As the weird women promised, and I fear/ Thou played’st most foully, for’t.

Literal Interpretation: Banquo: He has achieved all three statues (ranks) that the witches prophesised. Thane of Glamis, then Thane of Cawdor, and now King of Scotland. (And Banquo, perhaps begins to assume that Macbeth didn’t come by the throne because of his good deeds, but by the killing of Duncan.)

Symbolic/Thematic Interpretation: As far as theme and symbolism go for this portion, Banquo’s new awareness of the witches prophecy and the truth it brought forward will bring next to mind his own prophecy from the witches, in which he is greater than Macbeth and lesser, and although he will not be a king his offspring will.

2.Macbeth says: They hailed him father to a line of kings./ Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown/ And put a barren scepter in my grip

Literal Interpretation: Duncan was the father of princes (Donalbain and Malcolm) who will become kings in their own right (and himself from a line of kings). While Macbeth, knowing the meaning of the prophecy, himslef will never have sons to pass the throne onto.

Symbolic/Thematic Interpretation:

3. Lady Macbeth says: Naught’s had, all’s spent,/ Where our desire is got without content./ ‘Tis safer to be that which we destroy/ Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.

Literal Interpretation:

Symbolic/Thematic Interpretation:

4.Macbeth says: Better be with thee,/ Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent peace,/ Than on the torture of the mind to lie/ In restless ecstasy.

Literal Interpretation:

Symbolic/Thematic Interpretation:

5. Macbeth says: I am in blood/ Stepped so far that, should I wade no more,/ Returning were as tedious as go o’er.

Literal Interpretation:

Symbolic/Thematic Interpretation:


The Crossroads Between Should and Must

Link to Article found here.

Response to: “Where are you in relation to the crossroads, and which way do you see yourself headed?”

I have yet to see a crossroads. It’s not that I don’t have one or want to have one, purpose in life is often what drives us forward as human beings and has been the inspiration for some of man’s greatest achievements. But right now I feel like I’m walking a line, the single line between should and must. But I don’t know what my must is.

The author mentioned that must is scary and yet she almost seemed free. She seemed torn away from the safe, sound and some times restricting world of should.

Where I am now in my life I am traveling the “should” road, and may be on it for a while. But I don’t have a problem with that. I know what I need to do to get myself where I need to go. Must simply isn’t an option just yet. But even after reading this I have something to walk away with. I am much more consciousness of what road I am walking on today, than I was yesterday. And for now that single step is good enough for me.

Macbeth Reading Notes ACT III

(Not a summary but an analysis of a few things I felt were important for the ACT and the movement of the play in general.)

Banquo’s Monologue:

BANQUO Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
  As the weird women promised, and, I fear,
  Thou play’dst most foully for’t: yet it was said
  It should not stand in thy posterity,
  But that myself should be the root and father 5
  Of many kings. If there come truth from them–
  As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine–
  Why, by the verities on thee made good,
  May they not be my oracles as well,
  And set me up in hope? But hush! no more. 10

Right here is what I consider the crowning moment of Banquo, when he finally realizes the power he can have over Macbeth. And what I think Shakespeare is doing here is setting up an interesting dynamic. On one hand we have Macbeth who literally killed a man (definitely under the influence of his wife) that at the time would have been considered the King of Scotland because of Divine Right while in the other we have Banquo who is ambitious and wanting for power but almost doesn’t seem to want to go such extreme lengths as Macbeth did (although he doesn’t know about that, but see line 3 because I think he suspects Macbeth may have been behind it), because at the forefront he knows he won’t become a king, but his offspring will. So it sets off what could have been an interesting power struggle or even power vacuum but Banquo’s untimely death ends that relatively quickly but the threat of his son Fleance and his potential claim to the throne.

Scene 1 Soliloquy:

If you haven’t clicked it yet, the link for Macbeth’s soliloquy in scene one is posted above in turquoise!

Macbeth’s soliloquy in scene 1 is truly an important glimpse into Macbeth’s state of mind as well as interesting development within the play. And this is where we as the audience can say and began to back up that Macbeth is getting paranoid as his mental wheels start turning. It is almost as if he realizes that to become King, he killed a King, and now if Banquo were to act on the Witches prophecy Banquo’s offspring would become King. Interestingly enough, this is one of the first times Macbeth seems to put stock into the Witches Prophecy, because up to this point he seemed a bit skeptical.

We also get a clever allusion to one of Shakespeare’s “earlier” plays, and by earlier I mean written a few years before not an early attempt at playwriting, Julius Caesar. In it he mentions, “as Mark Antony’s was by Ceasar“.

Macbeth Reading Notes-ACT II

“Important” Characters:

Banquo-We definitely see more of Banquo this ACT than in ACT I and actually dive a little deeper into his own character and motivations that I think will make him a viable threat to Macbeth’s rule in Scotland, except…

Fleance-Banquo’s son. Who will become more important into the coming acts, remember as his is the one who the three witches’ prophecy speaks of.  “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.” (ACT I scene 3) Consider him a legitimate threat to Macbeth’s hold on the Scottish Throne.

Macbeth- We finally begin to see some of Macbeth’s spiral into insanity. Beginning first with “Is this a dagger I see before me.”

Lady Macbeth- Even more indirect characterization with Lady Macbeth’s words playing against her actions.

Malcolm & Donalbain- The sons of the late King Duncan. After Duncan’s murder they escape to Ireland and England to avoid being murdered themselves, although that throws a lot of suspicion their way.



What We’re Reading This Week

BookPeople's Blog

Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire & Ice: Book One by George R. R. Martin

“I’ve never been into Sci Fi, but my twin sister got me started on the the Game of Thrones television show. I got through about three episodes before I had to stop to read the book. I’m about halfway through now, and I’m totally hooked. The characters are so dynamic and against each other. There’s so much depth to the characters, their stories and the kingdoms. It’s like crack — not that I’ve done that — but I just can’t put the book down. I particularly like Tyrion. He’s played by Peter Dinklage in the show. He stands in contrast to a lot of the other characters. He’s witty and mindful of every action to make up for his short stature. It’s just so compelling. No one can escape his or her fate…

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Macbeth: treachery, murder, mud and blood

Seems like they did an excellent job of bring life to Macbeth!

A Glass Half Full

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble…”

“Out damned spot! Out, I say!”

“Is this a dagger which I see before me…?”

They’re lines etched into our memories from school days.  Penned in 1606, today in the right hands – or voices – they bring the bloody story of Macbeth to life on stage in a way the written word cannot.

I’ve only seen Macbeth performed twice. The first – in the 1970s when I was a schoolgirl – was a rather bizarre interpretation in which the setting was not Scotland but medieval Japan, and the warriors were samurai.  After a bit of research I assume that this stage production was based on the 1959 film adaptation Throne of Blood, by the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.  It certainly left an indelible impression on me and my schoolmates.

So it was with some trepidation that I set…

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Macbeth Reading Notes-ACT 1

Mainly because BlogSpot is a thing of horror and a pain to work with, I will be posting my “Active Reading Notes” from Macbeth here. And a quick disclaimer before I begin. I loathe Reading Notes. I read too quickly to slow down and write what I think of the chapter in terms of exposition, theme, syntax, etc.. Mostly because when I read I feel. Which is hard to transcend into words that I have to turn in for credit. So if you feel any  disdain while reading my post, I am doing my best to keep my own personal frustration of taking notes out of my notes. Capiche?

Macbeth ACT 1:


Even before I open a text, I love pondering about the author. Sometimes I temporarily stalk them on social media, I become an expert on their Wikipedia Article, or in Shakespeare’s case (because he is dead and most of what we think we know of him is most likely conjecture) I read the essays. For example in my Barnes and Noble Shakespeare copy of “Macbeth” there are exactly 42 pages of text outlining everything from William Shakespeare’s history to a brief introduction into Victorian English (think King James Bible). The first essay and in my opinion the most important is an “Introduction to Macbeth” by Jesse M. Lander. He goes straight into it and begins to explain Macbeth’s morally compromised values that make him a tragic (villain) hero, the only of Shakespeare’s Tragedies. And if you are reading “Macbeth” or even Shakespeare for the first time, I implore you to put down the computer/laptop/tablet/cellphone and grab your copy and read some introductions. It will give you a whole new insight into the complexities of “Macbeth”. And while you are there just for fun look at this and why “Macbeth” is often called the “Scottish Play“.

ACT 1 (Characters):

The Witches: Absolutely not to be trusted. Yes they tell the truth but something tells me that there is more to them than meets the eye. Although they do provide an excellent foil in which to view Macbeth and his character. Did I mention they are also great at foreshadowing? In the original text I believe they are referred to as the Weird Sisters.

Duncan: The current King of Scotland and has two sons who will inherit the throne, Malcolm and Donalbain. Remember the sons they will become of the utmost importance as the play progresses.

Macbeth: The “hero” of our play. At the beginning simply a noble and brave warrior Thane of Glamis, then Thane of Cawdor, and “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly.” the future King of Scotland. Although notice here Macbeth’s inability to call the deed for what it is, murder. He is more complex than we initially see or at least are led on. But subtle clues in his characterization show the true flaws and foils in which to view his character. Remember he is also easily influenced by…

Lady Macbeth: “Sailor’s wife with chestnuts in her lap.” I’ll let you interpret that as you may, but do not underestimate Lady Macbeth. She is incredibly cunning and will do what she can to obtain her ends, which in this case is have her husband become King of Scotland, and effectively herself be the Queen. And when you think about it, it is really Lady Macbeth which accounts for Duncan’s murder.

Banquo: I am really hesitant to write anything on Banquo and his character, because frankly the first time I read and worked through “Macbeth” I sort of left him out of the action and deemed him insignificant. So I’ll let you make your own decisions and guesses as to his character.

I will typically include quotes and their significance at the end of the Notes, but this time I want to do a series of quotes throughout the play at key moments so we can see how foreshadowing works in a play through Shakespeare’s word choice and diction.