Rhetorical Devices In Macbeth

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Macbeth, a play written by William Shakespeare for English King James Stewart in 1606, was only performed once, was hated by its intended audience, the King, and yet is regarded as one of Shakespeare’s finest works. The tragic hero of the play, who is ironically also the play’s villain, is Macbeth, a Scottish general who ruthlessly murders and deceives his way to receiving and keeping the Scottish crown. Throughout they play, there are many soliloquies, updating the observers on the mental state of characters from time to time. Two important ones in the play are “If it were done when ‘tis done...” from the beginning of the play, where Macbeth ponders killing Duncan, the king, and for the time being decides against it, and “Bring me no more…show more content…
In the first section of this soliloquy, Macbeth is demonstrating his confidence in the apparitions prophecies. The first way he demonstrates this is with rhetorical questions. He asks “What’s the boy Malcolm? Was he not born of woman?” (V, 3, 3-4). This is a rhetorical question. Shakespeare uses this rhetorical device to show that Macbeth fully believes Malcolm was born of woman, just like everyone else in the world, and therefore believes he has nothing to worry about. Shakespeare uses the rhetorical questions to show Macbeth’s incredible belief in the prophecies which create his dismissive mindset towards the oncoming threat and overconfidence in his security. Another device used in this section of the speech was allusion. Macbeth alludes to the prophecy of the second apparition, that “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth” (IV, 1, 80-81). In this case, Macbeth attempts to quote, unsuccessfully, the apparition, saying “Fear not, Macbeth. No man that’s born of woman Shall e'er have power upon thee.” (V, 3, 6-7) In this case, Macbeth identifies the source of his confidence directly, saying the all-knowing spirits have pronounced this of him, alluding to the earlier prophecy. Shakespeare likely had Macbeth quote the prophecy…show more content…
A first way Shakespeare does this is by saying “fly, false thanes” (V, 3, 8). Here, Macbeth is essentially saying to those who are leaving him to join Malcolm’s army “go ahead! I don’t need disloyal people like you.” This is ironic, because while he talks negatively of them, calling them false, Macbeth himself was a disloyal thane earlier in the play. Macbeth was a false thane towards Duncan, as he betrayed him and murdered him for his own personal gain. This not only demonstrates the overconfidence Macbeth shows by telling the thanes he doesn’t want or need them anyways, but also shows the complete change in character from Macbeth from the beginning to the end of the play. He now feels almost entitled to his throne, due to the prophecies, and therefore believes he can berate what used to be him. A second way he does this is the repetition of I. He says “The mind I sway and the heart I bear” (V, 3, 9). Macbeth repeats I in order to place greater emphasis on himself, underlying his belief that others don’t matter, as long as he is there with his prophecies. It shows his self-centeredness and overconfidence, disregarding the actions of others and only focusing on himself and believing in his personal safety. A final way Macbeth demonstrates his extreme self-confidence is by personifying his own heart. Macbeth says his
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