The scene opens to Macbeth contemplating to himself about the murder that he and Lady Macbeth are planning. He starts off by saying , “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly “ This means that if Macbeth can guarantee that no difficulties happen from the murder, and the murder can be done so no evidence is left, then it would be best to kill Duncan and kill him quickly. He wants to get the deed over with as soon as possible. This exposes Macbeth’s reluctance, denial and periphrasis of murdering Duncan, because he refers to the murder simply as “it”.
Diction becomes significant because instead of referring to the murder as “the murder”, he refers to it as “it.”He is trying to avoid saying murder, because he is very hesitant about murdering Duncan. The verb “to do” is used in with many different meanings in this sentence. By replacing all the meanings of done in the sentence you get If it were finished with when ’tis accomplished, then ’twere well It were performed quickly. By using the verb “to do” it also adds to Macbeths reluctance to commit the murder because he just wants to get the deed over with.
Macbeth continues saying if th’ assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch With his surcease success, that but this blow Might be the be-all and the end-all here,” This means that the murder must have no consequences and must can be the with the end of success. By referring to the murder as “assassination,” it illustrates Macbeth’s departure from periphrasis. It shows he is no longer going in circles about the committing the murder. He again does not refer to the murder as “the murder,” but refers to it as “assassination, surcease, and the blow.”
This might indicate that he might not be totally out of periphrasis, and still doubts killing Duncan because he can’t say murder or kill. The diction, “if” to start off the first two sentences indicates the possibility of not going through with the crime. Shakespeare uses the diction “trammel up” which refers to catching something in a net. In context, it means to catch the wicked “consequences” in a net. This creates powerful imagery and personifies “consequences” as if they can be cached in a net. Alliteration of the letter “s” is used when Macbeth says “surcease success.” This denotes snake imagery because snakes make hissing noises, and the letter “s” sounds like a snake’s hiss. This indicates Macbeth’s wickedness for considering Duncan’s murder, because snakes are usually associated with evil. When Macbeth says, “be-all and end-all” it shows that Duncan’s murder will be the best of the best and the most essential factor for Macbeth’s success.
As Macbeth continues his soliloquy however, we hear a sudden change in his thinking. He says, “But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, We’ld jump the life to come. But in these cases We still have judgment here, that we but teach Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return To plague the inventor.” The word “But” indicates that he is changing his thinking. When he says, “bank and shoal of time,” it is a metaphor fro life itself, because sandbars when constantly plagued with wave after wave from the sea, eventually crumble, so does our life. If Macbeth kills the king he acknowledges the fate of his soul in the afterlife by saying, “jump the life to come.” This reveals Macbeth clearly as a Christian, because he acknowledges he will be accountable for his deeds and may be sent to hell.
This is ironic partly because his “dearest partner of Greatness,” Lady Macbeth is a pagan spirit worshiper and believes in the power of spirits. This also reveals Macbeths yearning and belief that he should be king, because he uses “We” when he is speaking singularly about himself. This type of “we” is called the royal we and is used by kings. By using “we” Macbeth not only recognizes his hunger to be king, but also reveals that he will do anything including murdering Duncan to become king. The line, “return To plague the inventor” is like the Hindu philosophy of Karma, which is that the effects of all deeds will come back, making you responsible for your own life, and the pain and joy you bring to others. Macbeth realizes and accepts that he will be punished for Duncan’s murder.
Macbeth continues to say, “This even-handed justice Commends the ingredients of our poison’d chalice To our own lips. 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” Over here Macbeth acknowledges the justice of Karma by saying it is “even- handed. He knows that if he kills Duncan, whether by poison or stabbing or explosion, then he will have the same destruction because others might want the kingship and they might kill him to get it. This could also be an allusion to the witch’s prediction that Banquo’s sons will become king. Maybe Banquo’s sons will kill Macbeth just like Macbeth killed the king. This possible foreshadowing is the even handed justice that Macbeth might be referring to. Macbeth again uses the royal we to denote his passion for the kingship. Even though he is not king yet, he still believes that he is king. Soon however, Macbeth begins to list the reasons not to kill Duncan.
This supports Shakespeare’s theory that people are essentially good because Macbeth used reason to go back to virtue. He says, “He’s here in double trust: First as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed.” Macbeth is Duncan’s cousin, and he has sworn allegiance to Duncan as his king. These are powerful arguments against the murder. Another reason why murdering Duncan would be wrong, is because Macbeth is ” his host” When you visit someone house, you expect them to protect you. For example, this would be like me having a sleepover and me murdering everyone there. I am supposed to protect the people, not back stab them.
As Macbeth concludes his soliloquie, he says, “Besides, this Duncan Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against The deep damnation of his taking-off; And pity, like a naked new-born babe, Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubins, horsed Upon the sightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself And falls on the other —“ Duncan is depicted as a saintly, good, virtuous king who has governed well. If Duncan is murdered, the angels in consequence would vociferously speak out against the awful murder and would let everybody know who did it and how. Heavy imagery is used by Shakespeare here to portray the king as some flawless individual who is comparable to angels. The personification of “A naked newborn babe” to pity creates powerful imagery.
Babies are sinless so this would mean that pity is needed to commit the murder. Macbeth must have pity for Duncan, or he will never be able to carry out the plan to murder him. The ultimate hyperbole is used when Macbeth says, “ heaven’s cherubins, horsed Upon the sightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, That tears shall drown the wind” This portrays Duncan’s righteous and kindness to the point that the universe will feel bad at the death of Duncan, to the point that people will cry so much that the wind would not be able to blow anymore. Macbeth metaphorically imagines he is on an invincible horse, without eyes that will still deliver the message of the murder as a courier.
He is going to need a “spur” to make the horse go faster to go above any difficulties he might encounter. While he is on his way back to virtue and thoughts of not killing the king, Lady Macbeth interrupts him as illustrated by the punctuation “-“ Maybe Macbeth would have fully overcome the wicked intentions he had of killing the king if Lady Macbeth did not come. However because she interrupted him on his journey back to virtue, she left a small crack open, which could increases back to murderous thoughts.
Macbeth is deeply troubled by the terror of murdering Duncan, who is his cousin, a honest man, and a loyal friend. Macbeth’s greatest obstacle in the way of killing Duncan is the guilt he has towards the deed.