Macbeth. Significant quotes and their meanings from Acts 1-5.

3147 Words Dec 18th, 2003 13 Pages
Act 1

1. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair," is stated in line 10 by the witches in the opening of the play. The significance of this paradox is that it sets us up for the doubleness of the play. It means what is fair to the witches is foul to man.

2. "Though his bark cannot be lost, / Yet it shall be tempest-tossed," is stated in lines 24 and 25 by the first witch while she and the other witches are discussing a recent experience of hers with a sailor. The significance is that it gives us insight on the capabilities of the witches. It means the first witch can't destroy the sailor's boat, but she can make him miserable with a storm, meaning witches can only play with man, not destroy him.

3. "So foul and fair a day I have not seen," is
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It means that if Macbeth is going to commit murder, he assumes he might as well do it quickly, before he loses his nerve.

12. "Bloody instructions, which being taught, return / To plague the inventor," is stated in lines 9 and 10 by Macbeth while he contemplates the murder of Duncan. The significance is that Macbeth is only human, he knows right from wrong, and has fear and doubts of committing wrong. It means since we are taught to murder, murder will eventually come back to us.

13. "I have given suck, and know / How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me; / I would, while it was smiling in my face. / Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, / And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you / Have done to this," is stated in lines 54 through 59 by Lady Macbeth while she tries to build confidence in Macbeth, trying to convince him to be unafraid like her. The

significance is that Lady Macbeth could never break her promises/vows. The meaning includes Lady Macbeth giving an example to Macbeth of how loyal she feels she must remain in keeping a promise. She says that even though she knows the pleasure of nursing a child, if promised to kill him, she will, even if he is looking up at her smiling.

14. "False face must hide what the false heart doth know," is stated in line 82 by Macbeth while he concludes that he must commit the murder of Duncan. The significance is that he comes to the