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MACBETH
NOTES FOR UNIT TEST:LITERARY DEVICES AND EXAMPLES
ALLITERATION
The repetition of initial consonant soundsEx. Act I: “Fair isfoul, andfoulisfair; / Hover through thefog andfilthyair.”Ex. Act III: “Butnow I amcabined,cribbed,confined, boundin / Tosaucy doubts and fears.”Ex. Act IV: “Double,doubletoil andtrouble,Fireburn, and cauldronbubble.”
ALLUSION
Reference to something the author expects readers to know (history, science, literature, religion, geography, etc.)Ex. Act I--a battle scene is called “anotherGolgotha” (the place where Christ was crucified)Ex. Act II: “Will all greatNeptune’socean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?” (Roman god of the sea)Ex. Act III:“There is none but [Banquo] / Whose being I do fear, and under him / My genius is rebuked, as it is said /Mark Antony’swas byCaesar.”
ASIDE
a remarkbya character in a play that is intended to be heard by the audience but unheard by the othercharacters.Ex. Act II: Malcolm: “Why do we hold our tongues?”Donalbain: “What should be spoken here, where our fate…may rush and seize us?”
ASSONANCE
The repetition of vowel soundsEx. Act I: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair;Ex. Act IV: “Double, double toil and trouble,Fireburn, and cauldron bubble.”
CLIMAX
The most exciting and/or intense point of the story; in a Shakespeare play, the point of no returnEx. Act II: Macbeth kills Duncan.
COUPLETS (RHYMED)
2 consecutive rhyminglines that maysummarize a speech or emphasize an important ideaEx. Act I: “Away, and mock the time with fairest show / False face must hide what the false heart doth know.”Ex. Act II: “Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell / That summons thee to heaven, or to hell.”
DRAMATIC IRONY
occurs when the audienceand some characters knowsomething thatothercharacters in a narrative donotEx. Act I: The witches, the king, and some of his men know that Macbeth is now thane of Cawdor before he finds out himself.Ex. Act III: When Macbeth tells his guests that he wishesBanquocould be at the feast, he knows thatBanquois already dead.
FOIL
Character who stands in sharp contrast to another character in order to highlight that character’s traitsEx. Act I: Duncan’s mild and gracious manner vs. Macbeth’s deadly ambitionEx. Act II:Banquo’swillingness to leave his fate to heaven vs. Macbeth’s determination to fulfill some prophecies at all costs
FORESHADOWING
Clues or hints of what will happen in the future of a storyEx. Act I: The witches’ predictionsEx. Act II: The owl killing the falconEx. Act IV: The ghosts’ prophecies
HYPERBOLE
The use of exaggeration in order to emphasize an important pointEx. Act II: “Will allgreat Neptune’soceanwash this blood/ Cleanfrom my hand? No,this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine/ Making the green one red.”Ex. Act IV:“Not in the legions / Ofhorrid hellcan come adevil more damned/ In evilsto top Macbeth.”Ex. Act V: “Allthe perfumes of Arabiawill not sweeten this little hand.”
IMAGERY
The use of one or more of the 5 senses to help the reader imagine an aspect of the storyEx. Act I: [Macbeth]unseamed[Macdonwald]from the nave toth'chops, / Andfixed his headupon our battlements.Ex. Act II:“My hands are of your color, but I shame / “To wear a heart sowhite.”Ex. Act II: “Herelay Duncan,Hissilver skinlaced with hisgoldenblood…there, themurderers, /Steepedin the colors of their trade, theirdaggers / …breechedwithgore.”
IRONY
The opposite of what is expectedEx. Act IV: LadyMacduff:“I have done noharm. But I remember now / I am in thisearthlyworld, where to do harmIsoften laudable, to do good sometime /Accounteddangerous folly.”
METAPHOR
Implied comparison of 2 unlike things to emphasize their similar traitsEx. Act I: “Yet I do fear thy nature;/Itis too full o'th' milk of humankindness/ Tocatch the nearestwayEx. Act III:”O proper stuff! / This is the very painting of your fear. / This is the air-drawn dagger which you said / Led you to Duncan.”Ex. Act V:Life’sbut a walking shadow, a poorplayer /Thatstruts and frets his hour upon thestage / Andthen is heard no more.It is atale /Toldby an idiot, full of sound andfury, / Signifyingnothing.”
MONOLOGUE
Extended uninterrupted speech given by one person to others presentEx. Act II: “Is this a dagger that I see before me…”Ex. Act III: “Prithee, see there! Behold! Look! Lo! How say you? Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too…”Ex. Act IV: “Iconjure you by that which youprofess—Howe'eryou come to know it—answerme…”Ex.ActV: “She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…”
ONOMATOPOEIA
Words whose sound suggest their meaningEx. Act II: “Knock, knock, knock!Who’s there?”Ex. Act IV: “Thricethebrindedcat hathmewed.”Thrice, and once the hedge-pigwhined.”
OXYMORON
The joining of 2 opposite words to create a paradoxical effect.Ex. Act I: “When the battle’slostandwon…”Ex. Act I: “Fairis foul, and foul is fair:Hover through the fog and filthyair.”Ex. Act II:“'Tissafer to be that which wedestroy /Thanby destruction dwell indoubtfuljoy.”
PARADOX
A contradictory statement that contains a (sometimes hidden) truth.Ex. Act I: The witches’ prophecies toBanquo: “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. Not so happy, yet much happier…”Ex. Act II: Macbeth’s reaction to killing Duncan: “To know my deed, ‘twerebest not know myself.”Ex. Act IV: LadyMacduffabout her son: “Fathered he is, and yet he’s fatherless.”
PERSONIFICATION
Attributing human traits to objectsEx. Act I:“If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me / Without my stir.”Ex. Act I:“Stars, hide your fires; / Let not light see my black and deep desires.”Ex. Act II:“Is ’t night’s predominance or the day’s shame / That darkness does the face of Earth entomb / When living light should kiss it?”Ex. Act III:“And you all know, security / Is mortals'chiefestenemy.”Ex. Act IV:“Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak / Whispers theo'erfraughtheart and bids it break.”
SIMILE
Direct comparison of 2 unlike things usinglikeorasorthanto show their similar traitsEx. Act III: Macbeth’s reaction to the murderers’ failure to killFleance: “I had else been perfect, / Wholeasthe marble, foundedasthe rock, /Asbroad and generalasthe…air.”Ex. Act V:“Now does [Macbeth] feel his title / Hang loose about him,likea giant’s robe / Upon a dwarfish thief.”
SYMBOL
Object that represents both itself and another concept.Ex.Blood—represents the guilty consciences of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

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MACBETH - johnston.k12.nc.us