birds in Macbeth

Topics: Macbeth, Bird, Lady Macduff Pages: 2 (465 words) Published: April 27, 2014
Megan Lach
Mr. Folk
April 4, 2014
Macbeth: Act IV Journal
In the play Macbeth written by Shakespeare there is many mentions of birds in the dialogue. As well it is one of the themes in this play, used as a metaphor to different examples, such as when the characters use the word fly as an expression of escaping or leaving. Furthermore the theme of birds is also used when speaking of specific birds having meanings, or birds in this play used to show pathetic fallacy. Specifically in act IV sense ii and iii there are various uses of the imagery of birds, such as Lady Macduff in her shock at learning that her husband has fled from Scotland, she accuses him of running away because he is afraid. She thinks he should have stayed to protect his family, and says, "He loves us not; / He wants the natural touch: for the poor wren, / The most diminutive of birds, will fight, / Her young ones in her nest, against the owl" (IV.ii.8-11). Meaning through this quote Lady Macduff uses an owl to symbolize a strong man and a wren to symbolize a weak man, also a foreshadowing to their murder. A little later in the same scene, Lady Macduff tries to believe that things are worse than they really are. She says to her son, "Sirrah, your father's dead; / And what will you do now? How will you live?" (IV.ii.30-31). Son answers, "As birds do, mother" (IV.ii.32), meaning that he will live with what he is given "With what I get, I mean; and so do they" (IV.ii.33). Lady Macduff replies to her son, "Poor bird! thou'ldst never fear the net nor lime" (IV.ii.34). "The net" and "lime" (birdlime, is a sticky substance, and a net, were how people caught birds), but Son, his mother means, is so innocent that he wouldn't fear either one.

Shakespeare might use such imagery, rather than simply stating the fact in plainer terms because first and foremost it makes the play more poetic and interesting in a sense by being metaphorical. Also because different types of birds have different...
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