Context of the scene: A banquet has been set. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth enter as King and Queen of Scotland, followed by their court – amongst the noblemen in attendance are Sir Ross and Sir Lennox. As Macbeth walks among the company, the first murderer appears at the doorway. Macbeth speaks to him for a moment, learning that Banquo is dead, but Fleance has escaped. This scene, commonly known as the Banquet Scene, is quite an important scene in the play because it’s a turning point in Macbeth’s life. Indeed, this is simultaneously the high point of Macbeth’s reign and the beginning of his downfall. In a first part, we’ll explore the duality of Macbeth’s character, and show how full of oppositions this scene is. And in a second part, we’ll see how this slowly becomes the beginning of the end for Macbeth.
1. Duality & Opposition
This scene depicts a clear picture of Macbeth’s confusing state of mind. We indeed get a lot of different reactions from him throughout this scene, reactions that are just as sudden as they are opposite. First of all, the arrival of the courtiers and the murderers almost simultaneously shows clearly the duality of Macbeth as King and criminal. It is as if these two sides of him are present in the same room, personified by the noblemen and the murderer. At first, Macbeth is pleased with the news he just received and the murderer, praising him and telling him he is "the best," "the nonpareil" (without equal); moreover, Macbeth's own supposed invincibility is shown: "I had else been perfect;/ Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,/ As broad and general, as the casing air". He is the King and he clearly feels like nothing and nobody can stop him anymore. He feels powerful. But on hearing the unwelcome news that Fleance has escaped his treachery, Macbeth's language abruptly changes: "But now I am cabin'd, cribbed, confin'd, bound in / To saucy doubts and fears." (25–26). The alliteration of the hard c sounds reveals Macbeth's sense...
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