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Simile in Macbeth

Simile Examples in Macbeth:

Act I - Scene II


"As cannons overcharged with double cracks, So they Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe...."   (Act I - Scene II)

The sergeant tells Duncan that Macbeth and Banquo attacked with no fear as they redoubled their efforts against the enemy. His simile compares the ferocity of their attack to cannons that have been loaded with extra explosive charges, and he states that he is not sure what motivated them to fight so hard.

"As two spent swimmers that do cling together..."   (Act I - Scene II)

Shakespeare uses a simile to explain the battle between the king's forces and the invading Norwegians and their Scottish-rebel allies. The image of two tired swimmers who hold on to each other to keep from drowning reveals how the soldiers of the two armies are exhausted and neither side seems capable of winning. The soldier wants King Duncan to know that victory looked uncertain until Macbeth exerted his leadership.

"Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould But with the aid of use..."   (Act I - Scene III)

This is a homely and characteristically Shakespearean simile. Banquo suggests that while these new honors for Macbeth are not so natural at first, Macbeth will get used to them with time, much like how new clothes can feel strange at first but become more comfortable with wear and use.

"A heavy summons lies like lead upon me..."   (Act II - Scene I)

This simile tells the audience how tired Banquo is: he feels the call of sleep ("a heavy summons") weighing on him ("like lead") and making him tired. However, he ignores the call, for reasons we shortly learn in his conversation with Macbeth.

"As birds do, Mother...."   (Act IV - Scene II)

Lady Macduff's son jokingly answers her question with a simile which his mother then continues this idea of her son as a bird with an extended metaphor. His response of "With what I get, I mean; and so do they" means that he will get by however he can. Their witty repartee reveals a fond and loving relationship and makes the end of the scene all the more tragic.

"a devil more damn'd In evils to top Macbeth...."   (Act IV - Scene III)

Notice how Macduff and Malcolm both refer to Macbeth as black, evil, and a devil. Shakespeare likely used these particular words for the express purpose of giving the rebellion against Macbeth a moral and religious component. Macbeth is not just a bad king; he is an agent of the devil. This means that Malcolm and Macduff have God and righteousness on their side.

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