Here’s a list of the best key quotations for Macbeth. I’ve been teaching Macbeth for years and these quotations are the ones that I find myself returning to over and over again. They have lots of techniques and imagery in them, and they relate to a huge range of different key themes and ideas in the play: violence, madness, masculinity, death, religion, the supernatural and more.
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- A full set of video lessons on each key element of the text: summary, themes, setting, characters, context, attitudes, analysis of key quotes, essay questions, essay examples
- Downloadable documents for each video lesson
- A range of example B-A* / L7-L9 grade essays, both at GCSE (ages 14-16) and A-Level (age 16+) with teacher comments and mark scheme feedback
- A bonus Macbeth workbook designed to guide you through each scene of the play!
“Unseam’d him from the nave to’th’chops, and fixed his head upon the battlements” – 1.2 – Asks us to question Macbeth’s nature.
“brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name” – “O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman” – 1.2 – Captain describes Macbeth; Duncan to Macbeth.
“So foul and fair a day I have not seen” – 1.3 – Macbeth’s first line. Echoes the witches’ words in 1.1.
The thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me / In borrowed robes? Macbeth 1.3
“Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself” – 1.7 – Macbeth’s soliloquy exploring his motivations for murder – his fatal flaw is ‘ambition’, personification.
“I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more, is none” – 1.7 – Macbeth
“Is this a dagger which I see before me?” – 2.1 – Macbeth’s soliloquy, supernatural vision (or alternatively madness), violence – foreshadowing Duncan’s death, madness, manipulation by witches, rhetorical question – asking no one.
“Fruitless crown……barren scepter” 3.1 – Macbeth Soliloquy
“(Aside to Macbeth) Are you a man?” – 3.4 – Lady Macbeth challenges Macbeth’s strength when he has a nervous breakdown after seeing the ghost
“I am in blood/Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more” – 3.4. – Macbeth
“Give to the edge of the sword his wife his babes” 4.1 – Macbeth soliloquy regarding Macduff’s family.
“none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” “beware Macduff” 4.1 the Witches’ second set of prophecies
“bloody, / Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful, / Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin / That has a name.” Malcolm 4.3, about Macbeth
“Life is but a walking shadow… a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” – 5.5 – Macbeth before death – shows his full tragic fall.
“Out, out brief candle!” Macbeth soliloquy 5.5
“This dead butcher and his fiendlike queen” 5.8 Malcolm, about the Macbeths