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Macbeth's Soliloquy: If it were done when 'tis done... (1.7.1-29)


If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly:
if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,
With his surcease, success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'd jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor
: this even-handed justice
Commends th' ingredience of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips. He's here in double trust;
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,

Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on th' other -

Continue to Soliloquy Analysis


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'If I had three ears I'd hear thee.' Macbeth. From a Henry Irving production, 1897

Notes on Macbeth

"The evidence for many traits in the nature of Macbeth is confined to single passages, occasionally to brief suggestions. The imputation of avarice to the usurper in his decadence rests upon one word in one speech in the mouth of an enemy (Malcolm, in the third scene of the fourth act). The imputation of profligacy rests upon exactly the same basis. A single inconclusive speech in the fifth act is our warrant for concluding that his affection for his wife has materially declined. A single exclamation of four words "I would thou couldst!" is the sum of the evidence we possess that he repented even momentarily of any one of his murders. One speech and one only, "I dare do all that may become a man," breathes a clear note of manly rectitude." O. W. Firkins. Read on...


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 Soliloquy Analysis: If it were done when 'tis done (1.7.1-29)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Is this a dagger (2.1.33-61)
 Soliloquy Analysis: To be thus is nothing (3.1.47-71)
 Soliloquy Analysis: She should have died hereafter (5.5.17-28)