Macbeth Diction

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In Act 3, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s play, the Tragedy of Macbeth, Macbeth confronts the prophecy that Banquo would father kings during his soliloquy. Shakespeare’s purpose was to depict Macbeth’s frenzied suspicion and desire to maintain his position of power, establishing the idea that the difference between kingship and tyranny lies in the presence or absence of compassion, morality, and logic. By the utilization of diction and allusion, he exemplifies a paranoid tone to convey Macbeth’s spiral into madness to his audience of Elizabethans. In a time where supernatural beings were widely feared among his audience, they may have sympathized with or understood Macbeth’s loss of logic due to comprehending the extents people will go to when feeling distressed.
Shakespeare articulates the distressed tone through the use of contrasting diction in comparing Macbeth and Banquo. In this soliloquy, Macbeth realizes that the only prophecy left unfulfilled was Banquo’s: the proclamation that his sons would become kings. Shakespeare utilizes gallant, regal diction in Macbeth’s description of Banquo. Fearing Banquo’s “royalty of nature” and the fact that the witches “hailed him father to a line of kings”, Macbeth’s paranoia increases (3.1.52, 3.1.63). In contrast, Shakespeare’s diction in relation to Macbeth’s kingship has a worthless connotation. Describing his kingship as a “fruitless crown” and “barren scepter”, Shakespeare further develops Macbeth’s understanding of the idea that

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