23rd May 2017

Paragraph

Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme.–I thank you, gentlemen.

Aside

this supernatural soliciting

Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings:
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man that function
Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is
But what is not.

In his play ‘Macbeth’ Shakespeare uses language features to show in-depth display of Macbeth’s confused/unsure state of mind. “This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill, why hath it given me earnest of success, commencing in a truth?” Shakespeare uses questions to convey Macbeth’s unsure thoughts. He is wondering how the witches could be speaking truth when they are evil. The is wondering if he will become king because the witches have told the . “I am the thane of Cawdor: if good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs.” Shakespeare is explaining through this sentence structure that Macbeth is confused about why he relishes the thought of killing King Duncan. He is wondering how if he is supposed to be the righteous Thane of Cawdor that he is capable of liking the suggestion of Duncan’s death. Shakespeare uses the idiom “Doth unfix my hair,” or “makes my hair stand on end,” in new English, to show that Macbeth is frightened by the thought of killing Duncan. Shakespeare uses the metaphor “… and make my seated heart knock at my ribs,” to show that the thought of killing Duncan is going against all of what Macbeth believes in.

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  1. This plan makes good sense and I’m particularly impressed to see you taking the initiative to explore an entirely new part of the play and explore the quotations and their language to this depth. You’re absolutely right to identify the use of questions as a means of Shakespeare communicating Macbeth’s uncertainty.

    When it comes to putting your whole essay in order, which is definitely something that requires some thought, I try to encourage students to consider their argument as a logical sequence – one idea builds upon the next. This means that if you’re going to write about Macbeth’s pathway to madness, I’d first establish how the Macbeth’s ambition is set up by Shakespeare – in what events, and how does he describe it. Then I’d look at the various moments of mental degeneration – and at that stage demonstrate how the use of dramatic irony allows us as an audience to gain an insight into his state of mind (Banquo’s Ghost comes to mind here) then ultimately this sets you up to explore the complete collapse of Macbeth’s state of mind in the form of despair.

    It’s a big job bringing all that into focus and making a sensible argument out of it all – and again I’d reinforce the importance of writing each paragraph as a complete point, helping your reader understand in steps, as opposed to expecting them to get it all at the end.

    I am really looking forward to watching your work develop this week.

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