Banquet Scene Macbeth Essay Question

Act III, Scene IV, is important because it is Macbeth's high point as King.  Once he sees the ghost, his image as king is changed, tarnished with questions of madness. 

"Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect;Whole as the marble, founded as the rock, As broad and general as the casing air:But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound inTo saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo's safe?" (Act III, Scene IV)

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Act III, Scene IV, is important because it is Macbeth's high point as King.  Once he sees the ghost, his image as king is changed, tarnished with questions of madness. 

"Then comes my fit again: I had else
been perfect;
Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
As broad and general as the casing air:
But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo's safe?" (Act III, Scene IV)

"Can such things be
And overcome us likes a summer's cloud,
Without our special wonder? You make me
strange
Even to the disposition that I owe,
When now I think you can behold such sights,
And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,
When mine are blanch'd with fear." (Act III, Scene IV)

Macbeth begins to question his sanity, he can't believe his eyes, yet he cannot look away from Banquo's ghost.  In front of his dinner guests, he acts in an unstable, irrational manner, causing Lady Macbeth to make excuses for his behavior.  At this point, King Macbeth has lost some of the respect and admiration of his court. 

His subjects do not look at him the same way after this scene, it is a turning point for Macbeth. His manner and attitude becomes more tyrannical, he decides after this scene to consult the witches again, to seek their guidance.

Macbeth begins the slow descent into madness after this scene, losing his ability to control the future, something that he has killed to achieve. 

Examination Questions on Macbeth

Question: How do you explain the difference in Lady Macbeth's manner towards Macbeth after the Banquo ghost scene (III.iv), as compared with her bearing after the murder of Duncan (II.ii)?

Answer: An explanation of the difference of her manner on the two occasions may be found in the following considerations: Just after the murder of Duncan there was no time for the employment of gentler means; no time to seek the sleep which she entreats in the second instance. The nobles were even then at the gate; her husband must be recovered, and that both effectually and without delay, lest, in his frenzy, he divulge the whole terrible secret, and thus bring ruin upon them both (as was threatened again during the banquet scene which may account for the contrast between her manner during that scene and after the scene is over). Lady Macbeth realizes this, and has both the clear-sightedness to know what to do, and, in her excitement, the strength to do it. Let us note too that she is under the influence of artificial stimulants.

In the second case, the guests are gone, all the harm done that can be done, hence no such need for peremptory measures as on the previous occasion. It is permitted that her conduct be in accordance with her womanly feelings, and so we find it. Besides tenderest sympathy for him, there is a depth of pathos in her very words -- a weariness in her voice and manner, which point possibly to another explanation to be found in the sad change -- the gradually deepening melancholy fallen upon her own spirit since that former occasion.


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How to cite this article:
Bowman, N. B. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/macbeth/examq/mfour.html >.




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