Macbeth Act V Scene i – cross references

Act V Scene 1  Refers to
‘She has light by her continually, ’tis her command.’ Earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth, in Act 1 scene vi, prefers darkness.  She beckons the night to hide her murderous intentions from heaven and to stop even her personified knife seeing its effects:’Come thick night,And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,To cry, ‘Hold, hold.’  (Lines 48-52)



One, two.  Why then ’tis time to do it. The bell invites me. (Act 2, Sc i, Line 62)
‘Hell is murky’ These lines, albeit an indirect reference to ‘murky’, serve to demonstrate Lady Macbeth’s change of mood:’Come thick night

And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell.’ (Act 1, Scene v, Lines 48-49)

Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? This is the very paining of your fear (Act III Sc iv line 61)Fie, for shame. Act III Sc iv line 74)
 What need we fear?  Who knows it when none can call our power to account? Who dares receives it other,As we shall make our griefs and clamour roarUpon his death (Act 1 Sc vii Lines 77-79)
 Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?  Offstage, Lady Macbeth visits the murder scene, after saying:’If he do bleed,I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal’ (Act II Sc ii  lines 58-9).Later, Macbeth declares the grooms are ‘steeped in the colours of their trade’ and their daggers ‘breeched with gore.’ (Act II Sc iii lines 108-9)
 The Thane of Fife had a wife.  Where is she now?  At the end of Act 3 scene i, Macbeth decides to:’give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword’ Lady Macduff and her children.  We do know know the extent to which Lady Macbeth knows about this but one doubts that she is simply wondering where Lady Macduff is!
Out damned Spot!  … and …’What, will these hands ne’er be clean? This nightmarish experience is quite different from the earlier blasé:
‘a little water clears us of this deed’ (Act II Scii)
 No more o’that, my lord, no more o’that.  You mar all with this starting.’ This harks back to the banquet scene where  Lady Macbeth upbraids and ridicules Macbeth for his unmanly, jittery behaviour, saying:’O, these flaws and starts,Imposters to true fear, would well becomeA woman’s story at a winter’s fireAuthorised by her grandam.’  (Act 3 Sc iv Lines 63-66)
 ‘Here’s the smell of blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.  O, O, O.’ This does not directly link to any earlier references to smell – although the idea of hands never being clean echo Macbeth’s desperate rhetorical question from Act 2 Scii lines 63-65:’Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this bloodClean from my hand?
 ‘put on your night-gown’ (Line 52)’To bed, to bed; there’s knocking at the gate … To bed, to bed, to bed.’  On hearing further knocking at the gate, Lady Macbeth instructs her husband to ‘Get on your night-gown’ (Act 2 scene ii line 73)In Act 2, Scene ii, she says: ‘Retire we to our chamber;’ (line 69) which is a far more measured statement.
‘look not so pale’  On more than one occasion, Lady Macbeth scolds Macbeth for being afraid.  In Act 1 Scene vii, she chastises his ambition for becoming ‘green and pale’ (Line 37) and he, himself admits to her that his ‘cheeks are blanched with fear’ after seeing Banquo’s ghost (Act 3, Scene iv, line 116)
‘I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he cannot come out on’s grave.’  Here is another example of the words not appearing earlier in the text.  However, it seems entirely credible to the audience that, off-stage, Lady Macbeth might have berated her husband in this way.  On-stage, she says dismissively:’O proper stuff!This is the very painting of your fear; (Act 3, Scene iv, Lines 60-61)
‘Come, come, come, come, give me your hand …’  This is a moving testament to the tenderness that Lady Macbeth feels for her husband.  The audience particularly feels the pathos because it has not seen this before.  The undoing of Lady Macbeth in this scene moves us to pity her rather than relish her come-uppance.
 ‘what’s done cannot be undone’ These words signal the hopeless impasse that Lady Macbeth has reached. These last words before her instruction ‘To bed, to bed, to bed’, which this time is to herself, serve to haunt us.  Their meaning, conveyed by the negatives, is so different from her earlier categoric self-assurance:’Things without all remedyShould be without regard; what’s done is done.’Earlier, in Act 1 Scene vii, Macbeth considers whether there would be disturbing consequences if Duncan is murdered or whether it would be the ‘be-all and end-all’.  He begins his soliloquy:If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well

It were done quickly.’ (Lines 1-2)

Later, he is ‘afraid to think what I have done.’  The resonance, of these words at significant moments in the play, is almost palpable in Lady Macbeth’s sleep-walking scene.


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