Point: Shakespeare uses forceful metaphors and personifications to flaunt Macbeth’s malevolent desires and ambitions
Example: Macbeth speaks aside to the audience expressing his thoughts on King Duncan’s latest announcement that his son, Malcolm is hereafter pronounced Prince of Cumberland – the heir to the throne.
(Aside) The Prince of Cumberland! – That is a step// On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,// For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires!// Let not light see my black and deep desires;// The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be,// Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. /–/
In this passage spoken by Macbeth, he expresses his ‘deep and dark desires’ in which he wishes to kill Malcolm, King Duncan’s successor to the throne. This is illustrated through the use of metaphors and personifications. This piece of information embeds an implication in the storyline because we as an audience, are now aware of Macbeth’s tenebrous intents and desires to kill Malcolm and ultimately King Duncan, whereas the characters living in the play are blissfully unaware of this prospect. Macbeth illustrates his recognition that Malcolm stands in the way of him successing the throne by saying, The Prince of Cumberland! – That is a step// On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,// For in my way it lies. When Macbeth’s says, “That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap”, he is saying that Malcolm, the Prince of Cumberland will be his downfall, or otherwise he will have to overcome him.
In this extract from the passage, we are alerted as an audience of Macbeth’s morbid intendments when he says, Stars, hide your fires!// Let not light see my black and deep desires; In this extract spoken by Macbeth, he is asking fate to hide his actions, and mask his “dark and deep” desires.
“The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be,// Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. ” Finally, in this last extract from this very important passage spoken by Macbeth, he says let my hand blindly do what it must (without me looking), but carry out acts that my eyes will fear to see when completed.
Macbeth’s ambitions expressed by Shakespeare in this passage are in stark contrast to the Macbeth we knew prior to this passage. In Act 1, Scene 3, when the witches have made their prophecies that Macbeth will become King, he says, “If chance will have me King, why, Chance may crown me, Without my stir.” In this extract, Macbeth is saying that if fate has him destined to become King, then he will let fate run it’s course and not interfere. From this extract, you begin to associate a passive, gentle and patient character to Macbeth’s name, one that is not fazed whether he succeeds the crown. This character we have created is rapidly murdered in the first passage I analyzed, when his “deep and dark” desires are expressed to kill Duncan.