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Luisa Posada

Mr. Linton

English G

April 2016

Macbeth’s View On Life

In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, during Act 5, scene 3, Macbeth explains

how crucial it is for him to win the battle since it can secure his reign forever or take

away his title as King. He starts to realize how although people honor him, nobody

actually loves him. In Act 5, scene 5, it is revealed to Macbeth that his wife has died.

With the news of the death of his wife, Macbeth then tries to explain how life is only an

illusion and adopts a pessimistic view about it. Macbeth isn’t very impacted by the

death of his wife and says that it was bound to happen, we all die at a certain point

and there is no escaping this.

In the beginning, Macbeth uses asyndeton that consists of omitting

conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses in order to give a dramatic effect on

his speech. He also takes advantage during his use of asyndeton to list in order of

importance, “And that which should accompany old age, / As honor, love, obedience,

troops of friends” (5.3.26-27), which helps the audience appreciate and understand

his priorities and what he most desires. Macbeth also uses analogy, which is a

similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between

them, to try to compare his life with a yellowing leaf in autumn, “My way of life / Is

fall'n into the sere, the yellow leaf” (5.3.24-25), and how his life will start to wither
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away, just like a yellow leaf. This analogy is used to help the audience associate with

something familiar and make the speech more imaginative and engaging.

During scene 5, Macbeth uses different rhetorical strategies to make the speech

appealing to the audience such as repetition and metaphor. Repetition is when the

author repeats a word with the purpose of making a statement or emphasizing its

significance. Macbeth uses this in his speech when, after hearing about the death of his

wife, he states, “There would have been a time for such a word. / Tomorrow, and

tomorrow, and tomorrow” (5.5.18-18), trying to emphasize how the death could have

equally happened any other day. He also uses a metaphor, a direct comparison made

between two unlike things that actually have something important in common, in

order to make a relationship between the two ideas and help the audience understand

what he is expressing, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and

frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more.” (5.5.24-26). This metaphor

tries to show how, after we die, we are no longer remembered, only while we live; just

like an actor that is only appreciated while he is acting but after that, no one cares

about him.

In conclusion, during these scenes in act 5, it is shown how Macbeth really

thinks about life and his pessimistic view about it. He starts to realize how alone he

feels and how insignificant life really is, and tries to explain his views to the audience

by using different rhetorical strategies such as asyndeton, analogy, repetition, and

metaphor.
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Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. "Macbeth." Literature: The British Tradition. Upper Saddle

River, NJ.: Prentice Hall, 1996. N. pag. Print.

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