The public saw the plays were fiction, perhaps even a warning against witchcraft, and the magic in them is divorced of religious overtones.
It is noteworthy that the two Shakespeare plays which deal most overtly with magic, Macbeth and The Tempest were both written during the reign of King James I. James was an enthusiastic believer in the dangers of ...
The superstition that Macbeth is unlucky and must not be named is often supposed to date from the very first performance, or very shortly thereafter. However, a documented belief in this alleged curse can be traced back only as far as the early 1970s.
Background: What is the alleged curse on Macbeth?
The Royal Shakespeare Company provides some ...
It's a Biblical reference.
Noting that Macbeth is speaking of his own hands, and his own fears,
How is ’t with me when every noise appals me?
it is clear that this is an allusion to Matthew chapter 18, which speaks metaphorically of removing one's own bodyparts if they should bring you to sin.
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them ...
A. R. Braunmuller (Macbeth, New Cambridge Shakespeare, 1997) provides the following gloss:
Contemptuous epithet for a young person (OED Egg sb 2b, citing only this line and another from 1835); (...)
G. K. Hunter's edition of the play (New Penguin Shakespeare, 1967) doesn't provide a gloss here.
Braunmuller also links the murderer's word choice with the ...
The word ‘do’ fills what would otherwise be a gap in the rhythm. With ‘do’ you can scan the line as regular iambic pentameter:
x / x / x / x / x / x
As two | spent swim- | mers that | do cling | togeth- | er
(The extra syllable at the end of the line is a so-called ‘feminine’ ending.)
Without the word ‘do’ there ...
Oh, yeah, she's clearly unstable from the moment we meet her. Even better, she chooses to be unstable. In her very first appearance, she calls on supernatural forces to remove all traces of compassion:
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Lady Macbeth is the villain. Macbeth is, in fact, a tragic hero.
The first time I ever read Macbeth I was struck by the feeling of sympathy I had for the eponymous character at the end of the play. He had - surely - brought on his own downfall and demise and deserved his fate. Why the strange twinges of empathy for such a monster?
In fact, from the very ...
Possibly the Bible? From Matthew 18:9:
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
The other answers have explained the meaning of the line—that Macbeth shall be king, as he was promised by the witches—but there is more to say about the choice of wording.
The difficulty here arises because Lady Macbeth is expressing herself evasively. Why doesn’t she come straight out and say, “thou shalt be king as thou art promised”? The reason is that ...
The murderer’s choice of words here is an attempt to deflect or minimize his responsibility for the failure to kill Fleance. He knows that he and his fellows failed Macbeth (“We have lost best half of our affair”) due to their incompetence (“Who did strike out the light?”), and chooses his words to Macbeth carefully to avoid being punished.
The phrasing “...
The metre in Macbeth is already fairly irregular but the lines spoken by the Witches or "Weird Sisters" still stand out.
In Act 1, scene 3, Banquo describes the witches as follows (quoted from Open Source Shakespeare):
(...) What are these
So wither'd and so wild in their attire,
That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
And yet are on't? ...
To "give the lie" is an English expression meaning to expose a lie, or show a thing is not true. It is still in use today.
to show that something is not at all true
These figures give the lie to the notion that people are spending less.
to prove that something is not true:
The fact that the number of deaths from cancer in ...
When Shakespeare uses an unfamiliar or idiomatic word or phrase, he quite often doubles it with a more conventional one, with the effect of explaining it "in place." There's a good example of this elsewhere in Macbeth, when the eponymous villain says "Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will ...
Shakespeare's play differs very substantially from actual events (the historical Macbeth reigned for about 17 years). However, according to Wikipedia the historical Lady Macbeth had a son Lulach from her first marriage to Gille Coemgáin.
I don't know whether Shakespeare was aware of this history, but presumably some of his contemporaries were. I ...
What Lady Macbeth means with "what thou art promised" is the kingdom that Macbeth was supposedly "promised" in the witches' prophecy.
All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!
So he is Thane of Glamis, became Thane of Cawdor and the remaining ...
Trochaic meter (consisting of singular trochees) is the exact opposite of iambic meter: trochaic meter a metrical foot made up of one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable. Conversely, iambic meter is made up of one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. As a result, this puts emphasis on the beginning of the words in the line:
The Witches are supernatural in character and Satanic. They delivered a self-fulfilling prophecy to tempt Macbeth into willingly committing evil deeds to secure his soul.
A common motif in mythology is that of the three Fates. Greek and Roman, Irish and Norse legend all have versions of these figures with each of the women representing past, present and ...
The OP states that the source is hard to spell. That can't apply to the Bible.
A classical character who actually blinds himself is Oedipus. His crime is the same as the one Macbeth contemplates--regicide, or murdering the king. Shakespeare's audience would be familiar with the story of Oedipus and with the constant reminders about the evils of regicide.
The composition of Macbeth is usually dated to 1606, i.e. some time after the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605, to which it contains an allusion (see e.g. Braunmuller, page 6). (Arguments for an earlier date, even as early as 1601, has not been convincing. See Muir page xviii.) The earliest eyewitness account of a performance dates from 1610 or 1611  and ...
It is generally believed that Shakespeare based Macbeth on Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, Volume 5 (1587). This is not just because Shakespeare's version of the story closely follows Holinshed's, but because Shakespeare consistently uses Holinshed's phrases and repeats his mistakes. For example, Holinshed ...
I think we are to understand that he made his oath to Lady Macbeth between the end of Act I Scene V and the start of Act I Scene VI
MACBETH: We will speak further.
LADY MACBETH: Only look up clear; To alter favour ever is to fear: Leave all the rest to me.
I'm fresh from seeing Measure for Measure at the RSC in Stratford on Saturday and ...
Since MacBeth continues to talk to the doctor afterwards, and specifically asks him to heal his country, it doesn't sound like he's objecting to the doctor or the practice of healing overall. "For the dogs" in this line sounds more like "What, you can't cure my wife? Oh, then the hell with it" or "fine, screw medicines."
This Sparknotes No Fear Shakespeare ...
The accepted date for Macbeth is 1606. This date, first proposed by the 18th C scholar and editor Edmund Malone, has never been seriously challenged. Yet the earliest surviving text of Macbeth is that of the 1623 First Folio, published seven years after Shakespeare's death. There is good reason to believe that the text did not remain stable in ...
In the First Folio (see ShakespearesWords.com), which contained the first printed version of the play, the relevant lines read as follows (emphasis added):
Fillet of a Fenny Snake,
In the Cauldron boyle and bake:
Eye of Newt, and Toe of Frogge,
Wooll of Bat, and Tongue of Dogge:
Adders Forke, and Blinde-wormes Sting,
Lizards legge, and Howlets ...
De Quincey says that murder singularly focuses the attention on the instinct for self-preservation, which destroys any sense of distinction between human beings and animals:
the primal law of self-preservation, is the same in kind, (though different in degree,) amongst all living creatures; this instinct therefore, because it annihilates all distinctions, ...
This is a passage that has puzzled many readers!
“Vault” means “jump or leap, especially over or onto something”. The word is still used for various kinds of gymnastic feat, whether over equipment, or on the backs of horses.
So in these lines, Shakespeare gives us two metaphors in quick succession. In the first, Macbeth likens his intent (his plan to murder ...
One should consider the context of this passage. The porter is obviously very drunk, and when McDuff and Lennox come in, the following exchange occurs (quoted from the First Folio, emphasis added; line breaks from the First Folio):
Macd. Was it so late, friend, ere you went to Bed,
That you doe lye so late?
Port. Faith Sir, we were carowsing till the ...
The rhythm has a double iamb (it is too full), an anapest (o’ the milk), and a ‘feminine’ ending (kindness):
x x / / x x / x / x / x
It is | too full | o' the milk | of hu- | man kind- | ness
‘Milk’ is a metaphor.
The line as a whole is ironic: Macbeth has only just enough kindness to balk at outright murder, and Lady ...
The words "Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be / What thou art promised" can be explained as follows:
You are Thane of Glamis (Macbeth's title at the beginning of the play),
You are Thane of Cawdor (a title conferred on Macbeth after the original Thane of Cawdor defected to the invading Norwegians; see Act I, scene 2),
You shall be (or become) what ...
In addition to the devices mentioned in the other answers, the phrase "milk of human kindness" also deploys two other devices:
Paronomasia, or more simply, a pun. Kindness typically means gentleness, generosity, and/or helpfulness, which is the most readily accessible sense here. But kind can also mean category, as in:
What kind of books do you ...