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Macbeth Act III

Notice the questions flying in this scene. Banquo wonders whether the witches’ prophecies will come true for him as they did for Macbeth. Do you think he will play “most foully” for his to come true? Why is Macbeth asking Banquo all those questions? Seems like he’s grilling Banquo to find out where he will be at all times today.

Ah! Another soliloquy! I just love these thoughts spoken for us. Great imagery here - notice the negative growth imagery - “a fruitless crown,” “a barren scepter” - interesting Look at those side notes.

Macbeth is becoming a master of manipulation here. We see him whip the murderers into compliance with his plans. Who is he arranging to have murdered? Is Lady Macbeth in this planning? Where is she now? Hmmmm - seems like the beginning of role reversal here. At the end of Act II, Macbeth was kind of falling apart and Lady Macbeth was in control. Now Macbeth is in control.

scene 2

We see Lady Macbeth in her chambers. Notice that she is not a happy person. She doesn’t feel safe here - “’Tis safer to be that which we destroy than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.” Macbeth agrees with her - “We have scotched the snake, not killed it”

There has been a straining of the closeness of these two. Lady Macbeth asks Macbeth why he has been keeping alone.

We see by her comments that Macbeth has not been sleeping. “Macbeth shall sleep no more” (II,2)

Lady Macbeth doesn’t know about the plan to kill Banquo - “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, till thou applaud the deed” - Macbeth still calls her by pet names but no longer confides in her.

scene 3

I don’t think I have to tell you what happens here. Notice, though, that when the light goes out bad things happen. Light is usually symbolic of hope, life. This scene is a turning point for Macbeth. Fleance escapes, thereby foiling Macbeth’s plans.

scene 4

Oh, I love this scene!! It’s really broken up into three parts - the private conversation between Macbeth and the murderer, the dinner, and the private conversation between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Notice the interesting ironies and phrases - “Thou art the best o’ the cutthroats” “But Banquo’s safe?”

Macbeth finds out that Fleance has escaped and is distraught.

Nice image - “safe in a ditch he bides, with twenty trenched gashes on his head”

The dinner is a real hoot. When Macbeth toasts to the absent Banquo, the ghost of Banquo appears. At this, Macbeth looses it. I guess we would, too, if we saw a ghost with “gory locks.” Lady Macbeth tries to comfort him. She uses references to his manhood to snap him out of it. She really doesn’t know what he sees. She does get an idea around line 71-72, but she may be thinking that he sees Duncan’s ghost.

Of course, the guests at the feast wonder what’s going on. Lady Macbeth covers for “poor” Macbeth by saying he has a condition that makes him hallucinate. Yeah, right!

When the two are alone again, we see that even though Macbeth is shaken, he is questioning where Macduff is. Is he to be the next victim? Where is Macbeth going tomorrow?

Nice blood imagery in this scene. It starts with the reference to Banquo’s blood on the murderer. Then “Blood hath been shed ere now” “It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood” “I am in blood stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er” This last is my favorite. We can imagine Macbeth standing in the middle of a lake of blood. Whether he turns back or goes forward, he must wade through an equal amount of blood. Great image!

scene 5

Another great scene! I love those witches, they are so evil. Who is Hecate? Check out your mythology. Shakespeare twists her into an evil character that likes to manipulate nasty humans.

Hecate doesn’t have a very high opinion of Macbeth - “a wayward son, spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do, loves for his own ends, not for you.” In reality, she is just ticked off because they didn’t ask her to enjoy messing with him in the first place.

Lines 30 - 31 are the most important in this scene. “He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear his hopes ‘bove wisdom, grace, and fear; And you all know security is mortals’ chiefest enemy.” Figure this one out!

scene 6

This is really just a news brief. We see what’s been happening in Scotland since Macbeth has become king. We also see what happened to Macduff. Where did he go? Why?