Paragraph on a metaphor from Lady Macbeth in Act 1 Scene 5.

Lady Macbeth is a character noted for her effective use of metaphors to express her cruel desires. After she receives a message that the King will be visiting her castle, she immediately calls on the witches to “unsex her” and to help her murder the King. At one point, she says “That my keen knife see not the wound it makes”. By comparing herself to a sharp knife, she is illustrating herself as who she desperately wants to be; a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to murder the King. However, the use of this metaphor shows that she does know right from wrong and she maybe feels some remorse for her future actions, because she says “see not the wound it makes”, which I interpret this as meaning “Don’t let me see the damage that I will inflict on Duncan and on the people affected by his death”. This metaphor shows that she wants to be a cruel, evil person and murder the king, but she is also still a human and may come to regret her actions in the future.

Alternate introduction: Lady Macbeth is a character noted for her effective use of metaphor. She uses this language technique many times throughout Shakespeare’s Macbeth to express her cruel desires and evil thoughts.  


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  1. A couple of observations:

    1) It’s not Lady Macbeth who uses these metaphors. It’s Shakespeare. I think this distinction is important, as no matter how realistic his characters are, in the end they are simply another device he uses to construct a play. When you step back and consider Shakespeare as the playwright (the ‘maker’ of the play), then you’re able to fully explore the techniques he uses. One of which is metaphor, a language effect.

    2) He personifies the knife, which in turn might symbolise Lady Macbeth’s ambition. The terms are important here.

    3) Can you take your exploration of the implications of this language effect further. I think it is representative of the wider theme of ‘appearances vs reality’ that weaves itself throughout the play. (You may have more to say about this the more of the play you read).


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